Frog and Toad Show Premieres at McKenna Theater

​​Putting a spin on the typical senior thesis, Katie Gudzik put on a multifaceted play production of popular children’s series “Frog and Toad.” Photo Courtesy of Megyn Sperry

This past week, a wonderful expression of creativity was displayed with the gracious eye of Honors student, Katie Gudzik. For her Honors senior thesis, she decided to put on a show rather than the standard 30-page paper. The show was a proven success, and everyone involved was extremely dedicated to their roles. The entire production was sustainable, and featured an American Sign Language (ASL) interpretation.

Before the show began, Gudzik gave a speech expressing her gratitude to the audience for coming, while then teaching them how to sign the words “frog” and “toad” in ASL. “It was fun to see everyone in the audience, children, college students and faculty in their seats signing along with Katie,” fourth-year digital media production major Emerson Wachnik described. The audience was truly warmed with the welcome, and was eager to see the performance.

 “I wanted to produce a staged reading to lower the stakes performers would feel, eliminating the need to memorize their parts and expanding the amount they got to play with and explore their characters and fellow performers on stage,” Gudzik remarked. “We only had 10 rehearsals to put the whole show together before inviting an audience to see our work, so we wanted to make big choices and have as much fun with the material as we could in the short time we had together.” 

Although the stakes were high, the execution was flawless, and a large crowd gathered at McKenna Theater to see the cast showcase their performance. “Our process was quick because it was a staged reading and a thesis project instead of a mainstage play,” fourth-year theater arts and linguistics double major Kiana Duggan-Haas stated. “We had three weeks of rehearsal … [and] focused on learning music first, then began staging.”  

“I was lucky that Katie trusted me to be a fairly hands-on assistant director,” Duggan-Haas remarked. “I’ve been attached to the project since September, so I contributed to planning our auditions and callbacks, and was there to help cast … once the show was in rehearsals I often served as Katie’s second set of eyes, both so she had someone to bounce ideas off of and so I could focus on acting/staging at times when she needed to be paying more attention to music and/or ASL.” 

Auditions for roles in the show were held a few weeks prior to its debut; posters were displayed around campus to promote the opportunity to aspiring actors. The cast was chosen, and consisted of New Paltz students who were eager to collaborate with Gudzik in her creative vision. The show was able to remain completely sustainable, which was beneficial to their budget. Props were disregarded, costumes were from the theater’s costume storage or performer’s wardrobes and scripts were printed on recycled paper. It’s very easy to become wasteful while putting on a production, but if you try a little bit it’s not as hard to be sustainable as you’d think. 

“I was director, music director, producer and an ASL interpreter/performer — a wearer of many hats. I loved being able to run a collaborative and fun rehearsal room and help drive the force behind this project when certain days were harder than others. I think the producer side of things was the most demanding and the most challenging since it was something I had never experienced or really been taught how to do before,” Gudzik described.  

“Frog and Toad” was ultimately a spectacular depiction of a student’s positive creativity displayed on campus. The production was extremely heartwarming and enriching for the audience, as the cast was extremely happy to be involved. 

“This project was made possible with the support from the Dept. of Theatre Arts, the Honors Program, and the Fall ‘22 Academic Year Undergraduate Research Experience (AYURE) Grant,” Guzdik stated. “The RSCA paid for the rights to put on the show through MTI (Music Theatre International) — $520, and they have helped pay for the consumable supplies our scenic art required — give or take $100.” 

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About Samantha Salerno 53 Articles
Samantha (Sam) Salerno is a third-year performing arts major who has a passion for writing. This is her third semester on The Oracle. She spent the majority of her summer working for the publication, Fire Island News. You can reach her by emailing salernos2@newpaltz.edu.

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