Celebrated Children's Books get Stage Debut

Published: November 16th 2010
in Culture » Stage

Jen Shuber

Jen Shuber has choreographed plays for a number of different theatre companies around Toronto, including Soulpepper, the Harold Green Jewish Theatre Company and Tarragon. 


But the upcoming musical A Year With Frog and Toad (for which Shuber is the choreographer and associate director) has a special meaning for the celebrated choreographer. The play is based on the popular children’s books by Arnold Lobel -- books Shuber used to read as a child. 


Shuber talks to Shalom Life about the show (on stage until Dec. 30 at Lorraine Kimsa Theatre for Young People’s Main Stage), working with the talented cast and her upcoming projects. 


What inspired you to become a choreographer? 


I have been dancing from a very young age. I got my start at The National Ballet School of Canada and have been in the world of dance and theatre ever since. 


How would you describe A Year With Frog and Toad?


This is a jewel of a musical based on the Frog and Toad books by Arnold Lobel. The show focuses on the meaning of friendship. It is a show that children and parents can enjoy together, it has universal themes. I think families will definitely leave the theatre feeling touched by the relationships and lessons they have learned and with such a fantastic score they will be humming the tunes too. All of the characters in the show are different animals (Frog, Toad, Mole, Snail and Birds) and this also makes the show a lot of fun for the kids to watch.


Were you a fan of Arnold Lobel before the play? 


Yes, I read the Frog and Toad series as a kid and am happy to see that his works have withstood the test of time. 


What's it been like working with Louise Pitre and the rest of the cast?


An amazing experience. I feel privileged to work with Louise and the entire cast, they are an incredible group. I love my job and that I can come to work and watch their performances every day, it is truly inspiring.   


What do you have to keep in mind when choreographing a show geared towards kids?


Working at LKTYP has been a really fantastic experience. It is great to work at a place that has a commitment to thought provoking work for kids. This makes my job so much more meaningful and I keep their mission in mind when working on the show.


It is important for me when working on a show to focus on making the characters real for kids and recognizing that kids are smart and will understand a lot.


My parents took me to the Young People's Theatre as a kid and I always felt that the shows had a big impact on me, I hope to be able to give the same experience to kids that are coming to see Frog and Toad.


What other choreographers do you admire?


I am in awe of Jerome Robbins. He originated the choreography for many of my favourite musicals and had a real talent at bringing different characters to life through choreography. 


What’s next for you?  


My next big production is that I am having a baby in January, I will be back to the theatre in the Spring just like the birds in our show.




For more information visit, www.lktyp.ca

Related articles: (stage, Arnold Lobel, Frog and Toad, Jen Shuber, choreographer)

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