Second Street Players Children’s Theater celebrated their 10th season with the performance of The Frog Prince. Based on the Olenberg manuscript and various editions of the tale The King’s Daughter and the Enchanted Prince by the Brothers Grimm, the show displayed many lessons for children including the old adage to never judge a book by its cover.
In the story, Princess Luana plays with her golden ball near a well in the deep forest, where she meets the Hag, whose hand is stuck in a tree. Although she tries, Luana is unable to help her. Pantera, a wounded, adolescent panther, runs in, begging for her mother’s help. Prince Erik has wounded her and pursues her. After the prince threatens to throw Luana down the well if she doesn’t tell him which way Pantera ran, Luana points to the Hag. Erik attempts to bargain with her, but he refuses to help her or to stop pursuing the magical Pantera. The Hag pulls her own hand from the tree, drops her outer robe revealing a much younger witch, and decides Erik’s fate.
Shawn Merillo played Prince Erik and describes the character as “Self-centered, only caring about what he wants.” Through a transformation, the Prince is humbled and learns that the way he treats others has real implications. “He starts out as someone that is waited on and always gets what he wants,” said Merillo. “As he is treated poorly as the frog and must work so hard to get the Princess to keep her promises, he learns.”
The Hag turns Prince Erik into a frog and casts him down the well saying the only way he could become a man again is by successfully courting Princess Luana. A couple of years later, Luana again plays with her golden ball in the deep forest. The Hag appears and seems to bless the ball and Luana, who then accidentally throws her ball down the well. Erik, as a frog, hears her cries and offers to fetch the ball if she promises to let him eat from her bowl, drink from her cup, and be his companion for an evening. She agrees, he retrieves the ball, and she runs off without him. That evening, at her birthday celebration, Erik shows up and hilarious events follow as a now-humbled Frog Prince tries to woo the princess.
Colby Crawford played the Prince turned frog in the performance. He says that he enjoys that the character is “kind of a goof ball and acts very stupid.” He has enjoyed portraying the character and says this play has been fun. “I hope the audience sees from my character that it is alright to be yourself and not care what people think about you.”
The role of Princess Luana was played by Alexis Waddy. “I love that Luana doesn’t let social expectations get to her and she does what she wants,” she said. “This character has taught me to stand up for myself and to not be afraid to speak my mind.”
Directors Tammy Crawford and Scott Hammer brought this show to the Riverfront Theater. “Every cast becomes a family, by the time the play is done we are sad to see it go,” said Crawford. “This is a coming of age play and I hope children that watch understand the importance of not judging a book by its cover.”
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