Joanne McBride is in her third year choreographing at Summer Stage. She has taught at numerous dance studios, as well as theater programs at Archbishop Carroll High School and La Salle University. She has been fortunate to work with all different ages of actors and dancers. Joanne made her Summer Stage Mainstage debut in the 2012 production of “Hairspray.”
When asked why she is enjoying Summer Stage Joanne replied, “It’s the love and the heart in the program. Everybody looks forward to it all year because it is so much fun and such a big family. I love it, and I’ve been able to grow with that family and meet some really great people out of the program. It’s great to inspire the kids to do the same.”
In many ways the theme of “A Year with Frog and Toad” parallels one of the many missions of Upper Darby Summer Stage: for young participants to form lasting friendships with others and to reach out to accept others for who they are.
What are you most proud of so far during the rehearsal process?
Joanne: I’m really proud of the way the cast has been coming together and bonding. All of the musical numbers have become incredibly intricate – they’ve been learning more – and each time we do the dances the choreography has become bigger and better. They have started putting more of their acting to it. Nick (Hunchak – Director) has done an amazing job helping the kids to develop their characters, as he always does. Their faces have gotten bigger and their motions as well.
What theme is most prevalent in Frog and Toad?
J: Definitely friendship. In the beginning, Frog insisted that Toad get up from hibernating so that they could enjoy the whole year together, and he finally did. We witness their friendship growing throughout the year despite their little arguments. In the end, we see that Toad is so worried about Frog [when he is late for a Christmas party], and once he finally arrives, they realize how much they care for one another. It’s such a
heartwarming story! I think all the kids will love it.
How has your cast influenced you as a creative leader for them?
J: My cast has influenced me to look more at the bigger picture and not so much of “this has to be clean and this has to be ready to go.” Sometimes as a creative team, we can get so weighed down by impending deadlines, and we can forget that we are working together to create something beautiful. It has to be about them, the kids – how they’re having fun, how they’re putting on their production, how they are confident and ready for their preview and the show. It helps me relax more knowing they are enjoying themselves and that they really understand what they’re doing. As young actors, the cast feeds off of our energy towards them.
Why do you think young people could come see “A Year with Frog and Toad?”
J: I think it is such a fun and charming show! There are some big, full cast numbers that are fun and energetic, and some moments that are really funny for the kids. There is a big “Cookies” number and every kid loves a snack, so they’ll love that! The story is so heartfelt, and I really feel as though it will be relatable to friendships in our own lives. The audience will really enjoy all the musical numbers and the friendship that develops throughout the story between Frog and Toad.