Fringe 2018 review: 'Frogpig' is unexpectedly ribbeting


Attention, any Disney lawyers reading this review: Jim Henson’s Muppets are not explicitly mentioned by name in Frogpig, the one-man puppet cabaret from Orlando performer Joel Swanson. However, from the show’s opening minor-key chords of “Rainbow Connection,” it’s clear whose progeny the green, porcine-snouted star of this entertaining oddity is intended to be.

Abandoned in a sandwich shop by his famous parents, this foundling freak of nature finds solace in the songs of Barbara, Bette and Liza, but his journey to stardom takes a detour through barnyard porn. It’s a typical Tinseltown rags-to-riches tale, and Swanson maintains a snappy pace between songs, which range from Billy Joel and Cher standards to an overlooked gem from Boy George’s Taboo.

A frog in his throat on opening night prevented Swanson from nailing the high notes in Mika’s “Grace Kelly” as cleanly as he did during his teaser preview, but he compensated with a megawatt stage presence. And while his foam figure doesn’t allow for much facial flexibility, Joel wrings real emotion from it through polished movement and his own expressively animated eyebrows. Some strong sexual content makes Frogpig inappropriate for younger puppetry fans, but Swanson’s hamphibian has an emotionally honesty I found unexpectedly ribbeting.

Joel Swanson – Orlando, FL
13 & Up – Strong Language, Mature Themes, Interspecies Relationships
60 Minutes
Red Venue
Thursday, May 17th 10:00pm
Saturday, May 19th 7:30pm
Wednesday, May 23rd 5:30pm
Saturday, May 26th 8:00pm
Sunday, May 27th 12pm (noon)

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