CINCINNATI, OH- It lurks along the wooded banks of the Little Miami River. Seen and documented by few, the creature has nonetheless captured the imagination of many across the country, immortalized in local lore, countless cryptozoology guides, and now (naturally), a stage musical.
Hugo West Theatricals proudly presents the world premiere of HOT DAMN! IT’S THE LOVELAND FROG!, playing May 28 – June 7 at Cincinnati Art Academy (1212 Jackson Street in Over-The-Rhine) as part of the 2014 Cincinnati Fringe Festival. Tickets are $12 and will be available online at cincyfringe.com or by phone (513.300.5669).
Something is lurking in Loveland, the Sweetheart of Ohio, where the disappearance of a strange old man has rekindled the hysteria surrounding America’s most alluring cryptozoological phenomenon: The Loveland Frog. Join Luke Honeywell and a smokin’ bluegrass band on a riotous river adventure with maniacal moonshiners, crooked cops and the last Twightwee Indian as they rescue Pee Paw from the wondrous and elusive Loveland Frog. Based on true accounts, and featuring an all-star local cast.
It Came From Loveland…
Cincinnatian and Loveland High School alumnus Mike Hall grew up in the haunts of the Frog, which has bred campfire stories and local sports team nicknames, as well as a Loveland Frog Festival and 5k race. Upon sharing the story with collaborator Joshua Steele, the two instantly committed to penning an original musical on the fun (if bizarre) subject matter.
“I lived in Loveland for a good part of my life, and somehow didn’t hear the story until after I had graduated high school. Once I did, I learned as much as I could about this creature. I still find the story fascinating, and I feel like he’s a part of my life now.”
Busting Ghosts to Chasing Frogmen
Hall and Steele’s first joint effort, DON’T CROSS THE STREAMS: THE CEASE AND DESIST MUSICAL, is a stage sendup of a famous 80s movie about ghosts and the people who bust them. Premiering at the 2012 Cincinnati Fringe Festival, with subsequent productions at Indianapolis Fringe Festival and Newport’s Falcon Theatre, the show enjoyed sold-out performances and rave reviews from audiences and critics alike.
“The show is a hoot, the cast is terrific… “Streams” is clever as can be and rude and crude in the best way… Extend that terrific to Mike Hall and Joshua Steele who co-wrote book, lyrics and music.” – Jackie Demaline, Cincinnati Enquirer
“…a full-house audience clearly knew the film and shrieked with laughter as the tale spun wilder with each passing moment” – Rick Pender, Citybeat
“Simply put, the entire show is hysterical”– Myrydd Wells, Indianapolis Monthly
The Frog Catchers
Critically acclaimed STREAMS director and Walnut Hills High School drama program chief Mike Sherman returns to helm THE LOVELAND FROG, which offers a PG-13 experience and an ambitious bluegrass-flavored score played live by some of the area’s top actor / musicians, including Brad Myers and celebrated music director Steve Goers.
The cast of THE LOVELAND FROG includes Cincinnati favorites Miranda McGee and Randy Lee Bailey as demented sibling moonshiners, Bill Hartnett as a disgraced police chief and Reggie Willis as “the last Miami Indian.” NKU standout Erin Ward pairs with Miami University standout Kelcey Steele (cousin to playwright Joshua Steele) as the protagonists, who tangle with the likes of Joe Hornbaker, John Jacobs, Jack Bogard and Abby Rowold.
The Loveland Frog 101: Based on True Accounts
It was a late night in May of 1955 when Robert Hunnicut, a short-order cook, was driving home from his shift at a Loveland diner and saw three strange figures by the side of Hopewell Road. Feeling as though they may have been stranded motorists, Hunnicut brought his vehicle to a stop and got out, only to find that the creatures were gray and vaguely frog-like, one of them wielding a strange chain that emitted blue sparks. Hunnicut left the scene and gathered Police Chief Fritz. They returned to the location to find no sign of the creatures, save for the strange odor of almond and alfalfa.
17 years later, March 7, 1972, Loveland police officer Ray Shockey was driving his beat when his headlights revealed a figure in a field along Twightwee Road. The figure rose up on two legs, revealing itself to be a frog creature, which fled in the direction of the river. A mere ten days had passed when on St. Patrick’s Day, Shockey’s fellow officer Mark Matthews drew his cruiser to a stop on the Riverside Drive overpass, where a creature he presumed to be a dead dog lay in the road. As Matthews slammed his car door, the creature rose up to its full 4.5’ height and leapt over the guardrail. Matthews inexplicably fired his gun, either missing or only grazing the creature, creating a local controversy which attracted national media attention.
While often with different details and exaggerated accounts, tales of The Loveland Frog are readily available on the internet and in many published cryptozoology handbooks and publications.
Tickets and Performances
Tickets to all performances of HOT DAMN! IT’S THE LOVELAND FROG! are $12 and will be available online at cincyfringe.com, by phone at 513.300.5669 or at Cincinnati Fringe Festival headquarters (Know Theatre Cincinnati,1120 Jackson Street) prior to 4pm on the day of the performance.
Performance dates and times are as follows:
- Thursday, May 28, 8:45pm
- Sunday, June 1, 5:00pm
- Tuesday, June 3, 9:00pm
- Thursday, June 5, 8:45pm
- Saturday, June 7, 8:00pm
All performances take place in the Commons at the Cincinnati Art Academy, 1212 Jackson Street in Over-The-Rhine.
HOT DAMN! IT’S THE LOVELAND FROG! Cast and Production Team List
- Joe Hornbaker as Pee Paw
- Brad Myers Barkley – Guitar / Mandolin
- Steve Goers – Eenseenseeki, Guitar
- John Jacobs Schwartzman – Acoustic Bass
- Jack Bogard as Fisherman, The Frog, Fiddle / Banjo
- Kelcey Steele as Luke
- Erin Ward as Dharla
- Abby Rowold as The Old Woman
- Bill Hartnett as Schmidt
- Randy Lee Bailey as Clem Stank
- Miranda McGee as Randi Mae Stank
- Reggie Willis as Mac
- Mike Sherman, Director
- Steve Goers, Music Director
- Sean P. Mette, Puppetry Director
- Helen Raymond-Goers, Costumer
- Hunter Spoede, Sound Designer
- Eamon Hil,l Video Designer
- Katarina Anhofer, Stage Manager
- Randy Lee Bailey, Carpenter
- Mike Hall, Playwright
- Joshua Steele, Playwright, Producer