Kes Gray and Jim Field's best-selling Oi Frog! is one that ticks every box: it's funny, it's captivating, it's educational and it's the kind of book you can easily read 100 times in a row with a smile on your face.
Oi Frog and Friends! has landed at the Lyric Theatre for the festive season with original songs, puppets and rhymes aplenty. And we can tell you, there's nothing better than going to a kids' show where the audience knows every single rhyme because they're so enamoured with the books.
Lucy Tuck as Cat. Photo: Pamela Raith
Oi Frog and Friends does a brilliant job amalgamating the wonderful - and plentiful - rhymes and animals in the Oi Frog book series (which includes Oi Frog, Oi Dog, Oi Cat, Oi Duck-Billed Platypus and, most recently, Oi Puppies), in a story that follows the three protagonists, Cat, Dog and Frog, who are students at Sittingbottom School.
Frog is looking for somewhere to sit, but Cat has a very particular set of rules about who's allowed to sit where ("Cats sit on mats, gophers sit on sofas, frogs sit on logs, dogs sit on frogs...").
Frog doesn't want to sit on a log, but it's when Dog sits on him that his rhyming talents emerge, and he becomes more obsessive than Cat was about who sits where - and not everyone has it as good as the armadillos on pillows. We're looking at you, whale on nails. And you, elephant on smelly pants (complete with a skunk on your trunk).
The show is an absolute delight: the puppets are perfection, the musical numbers add colour and fun - the kids especially enjoyed dinner lady cheetah transforming the boring lunch hall into a fajita-filled cantina, complete with beach balls that were chucked into the audience, much to the children's squealing pleasure.
There is plenty of interaction throughout: when kids are asked to finish rhymes, audience names are read out with what they should sit on, and an obliging spectator is invited to get onstage as the duck-billed platypus. The other highlight was undoubtedly when the elephant ran through the stalls soaking audience members with his water-filled trunk. Adults in the audience got a real kick out of the fun advertisement-style interludes and newsy numbers.
The musical has been created for the stage by Emma Earle, Zoe Squire, Luke Bateman and Richy Hughes, courtesy of Kenny Wax Family Entertainment, and stars Darren Seed (Dog), John Winchester (Frog), Simon Yadoo (Cheetah) and Lucy Tuck (Cat).
Darren Seed as Dog, Simon Yadoo as Cheetah and and John Winchester as Frog. Photo: Pamela Raith
Now, what rhymes with: "We need to go book this immediately?" The show is suitable for ages 3+ and has a running time of 55 minutes. Trust us, your toddler will be obsessed.
|Oi Frog and Friends!, Lyric Theatre
|Lyric Theatre, Shaftesbury Avenue, London, W1D 7ES | MAP
|Leicester Square (underground)
29 Nov 19 – 05 Jan 20, various
|Click here to book