Credit: Wes Carrasquillo

Frog plays don’t come along every week. Puerto Rico’s dearest native
amphibian, the coqui, finally gets a taste of the theatrical acknowledgment
it so richly deserves in this 90-minute celebration of the island nation’s
heritage. Carlito (Manny Colon) is no ordinary coqui, though. Oh, no. Catch
him doing fun things like eating cereal, dancing the cha-cha, and
discussing rain-forest conservation at a level of abstraction inaccessible
to children. His friends? They’re the kookiest bunch of flatly
anthropomorphized tree dwellers in El Yunque. They simply crack me up with
their two entire songs and a reprise about how wonderful it feels to eat a piragua, the Puerto Rican snow cone. But it’s when Carlito gets
lost inside an enormous shoe and then magically grows to the same size as
the boy whose shoe it is that things really get exciting for fans of
theater that feels like some weird interlude at a fund-raiser.

Colon was the only cast member who appeared to consistently have his lines
and cues down on opening night. On top of that, principals’ mikes kept
being all staticky. I heard about zero child laughter in the audience for
the duration of the show except for when Jeffery Wilson was onstage, and
pretty much all he did was this random chubby lifeguard bit. Kudos to the
Latin band off in a dank, unlit corner putting in great work. More music,
with more lively choreography by Anais Zayas and less of the froggy
business, please God. Roberto and Griselda Negrón direct.   v