Deborah Henson-Conant's "The Frog Princess"

“The Frog Princess,” live, is a lushly orchestrated one-woman show, with a cast of characters, from the gruff, bumbling King to the wise-cracking fool, the evil governess, the handsome captain of the guards, the romantic Josquin and Amphibia herself. The supporting cast (thousands of frogs) is performed by the audience.

Scenes from "The Frog Princess" live on stage
(With Orlando Philharmonic - Photos by Brion Price)

Once upon a time ....

there was a princess...

who thought ...

... she was a frog!


In the olden days long before there were movies or films, the ancient “bards” or “troubadours” would travel from town to town with harps slung over their backs.

The movie screens of those times were the people’s imaginations, and on those magic screens, scenes of wonder appeared that even Steven Spielberg couldn’t create. It is the harper’s tradition to spin such tales, beginning with the magic words: ‘Once upon a time…'

Those were the same magic words that brought "The Frog Princess" to life. It all began in the mid-90's when composer/performer Deborah Henson-Conant took an intensive storytelling workshop from mime actor Tony Montanaro. In the midst of the workshop, a set of opening lines came to Deborah: “Once upon a time there was a princess who thought she was a frog. She didn’t look like a frog. She was just convinced that, deep down inside, she really was one.”

From there, the story of Amphibia, continued to spin in her head until she completed the story, orchestrated it for full symphony and premiered it with the Buffalo Philharmonic in 2000. “The Frog Princess” is now a standard part of Deborah’s Family shows, and has been featured with many orchestras as well as in the 2002 Chicago Humanities Children's Festival.

To imagine The Frog Princess, think "One-Woman Show" with full orchestra presents “Fractured Fairy Tales” meets “Peter and the Wolf” …with a lot of frogs.

Meet the cast of this fairytale:

The silly, wild, and...
unpredictable Fool.

The dashing Captain Worthington...
...and snobby Miss Littlebottom, the Royal Governess.

THE STORY: The "Frog Princess" is a sequel to the famous “Frog Prince” fairytale. The Frog Princess is Amphibia, daughter of the Frog Prince (now King) of Lilypadia. Amphibia dreams of being King, just like her father, but she’s afraid that ‘just like her father’ she’ll turn into a frog someday. Amphibia's fears aren't completely self-inflicted: her snobby, evil governess, Miss Littlebottom thinks no girl should dare to be King - and fuels Amphibia's fears by telling her that the minute she puts her father's crown on her head, she'll turn into a frog.

“Let me get this straight,” says the cockney-voiced Fool, “you’re afraid there’s an ancient curse in your family, handed down from generation to generation and suddenly one day you’re going to find yourself completely humiliated in front of the whole world? But … I mean…EVERYBODY’S afraid of that … but if it's really an ancient curse, I can fix it!”

The fool creates a curse-reversing song and dance for the whole pond (er ... I mean, audience).

But even his valiant efforts are in vain and
the night before her coronation, Amphibia imagines the frog she will become.

Hopeless and demoralized, she wanders into the old abandoned tower, lured by strange and wonderful music.

She climbs the old tower steps and at the very top -- she finds a big surprise!

In the tower, Amphibia meets Josquin, a young man with what appears to be a magic trumpet, a trumpet that Josquin says only plays the music of his inner self. When Amphibia blows the trumpet, the sound she gets convinces her that her inner self is truly a frog. Yet, once she reveals her whole, tragic story to Josquin, he admits that he has fallen in love with her inner self, whether it be frog or princess.

With the strength of this new-found love, Amphibia vows to accept her fate and to wear the crown, whether it makes her a Girl King or a Frog King.

Trembling with fright, she puts the crown on her head …


… and she turns into a frog! Or ... well, she feels like she turns into a frog. In fact, the clammy, parched, slimy feeling she has -- is simply her fear.

Once she's embraced her own inner frog and triumphed over her fears, the crowd shouts: "Long Live Amphibia!"

"Long Live Amphibia!"
And everyone lives happily … and hoppily … ever after.