A Froggy Becomes Review – The Trials of Puberty

Tom Sys and Sandra Kate Burck in A FROGGY BECOMES - Photo by Jenny Graham
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Penned by Becky Wahlstrom, A FROGGY BECOMES makes its world premiere in 2024 by the Open Fist Theatre Company. To quote the author, “I was inspired by the passion that lives within us during those transitional years. Puberty is a time when colors, smells, words, and kisses are vividly electric…we just need to wake it up every once in a while…my hope for Froggy is that it gives the audience strength to keep going because life is so hard and scary, and we have only two choices in the matter: live it or die.”

Johanna McKay, Sandra Kate Burck, Bradley Sharper, Jeremy Guskin, Peter Breitmayer (puppet), and Deandra Bernardo – Photo by Jenny Graham

The time is in the 1980s, and the place is the small and rather insulated world of Bumpy Diggs (Sandra Kate Burck), a seventh grader trying to find her way through the middle school maze. Her father is an ogre (quite literally), and her mother seems ready to run off with the local priest. Her science fair project is in limbo, and her love life is in ruins. She just can’t seem to do anything right. Even her snow angels are fraught with anxiety. Despite the fact that this is a tale for grownups, it is written from a middle schooler’s catastrophic perspective. Through it all, the question remains: Will Bumpy survive her twelfth year of life?

Deandra Bernardo, Sandra Kate Burck, Jeremy Guskin, Ana Id, and Tom Sys – Photo by Jenny Graham

A FROGGY BECOMES is a cute, silly story – with an emphasis on cute and silly. Humor is seen through the eyes of the pre-adolescent, and magic and fantasy are rife. Director Pat Towne helms the production with an eye to recapturing middle school life, or at least the life that many audience members experienced in the past. Unless, of course, they happen to be 12 themselves. Energy abounds, and emotional highs and lows are rampant. Through it all, Bumpy is determined to survive and thrive, as are her pals and a few grown-ups caught in this moment in time (Deandra Bernardo, Peter Breitmayer, Kyra Grace, Jeremy Guskin, Ana Id, Carmella Jenkins, Michael Lanahan, Johanna McKay, Bradley Sharper, Tom Sys, and Kyle Tomlin). The cast is suitably bubbly and enthusiastic, and the mood is usually upbeat and sometimes a tad manicky. There is even a super-life-sized puppet to catch your fancy.

Michael Lanahan, Jeremy Guskin, and Johanna McKay – Photo by Jenny Graham

For those who enjoy coming-of-age tales, A FROGGY BECOMES will be right up their alley. It may also trigger some forgotten memories about a younger, more innocent time. A FROGGY BECOMES should tickle some funny bones as it journeys through the minefield that is puberty.

Ana Id, Carmella Jenkins, Deandra Bernardo, Kyra Grace, and Kyle Tomlin – Photo by Jenny Graham

A FROGGY BECOMES runs through April 13, 2024, with performances at 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and at 7 p.m. on Sundays. Atwater Village Theatre is located at 3269 Casitas Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90039. Tickets are $30 (seniors/veterans $25, under 30 $20). For information and reservations, call 323-882-6912, contact the of*******@gm***.com">box office, or go online.


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