More Actors Jump Into Sondheim's Frogs Pond at Lincoln Center

News   More Actors Jump Into Sondheim's Frogs Pond at Lincoln Center
John Byner, Peter Bartlett, Daniel Davis, Burke Moses and Michael Siberry have joined the previously-announced Nathan Lane and Chris Kattan for the upcoming Lincoln Center Theater production of Stephen Sondheim's The Frogs, which features at least six new songs by the composer.

Davis, a veteran of San Francisco theatre, won a Tony nomination in 2000 for his turn as a foppish, but sincere theatre producer in Broadway's Wrong Mountain. Soon after, he played Oscar Wilde in Tom Stoppard's The Invention of Love, also a Lincoln Center production.

Bartlett is known as a dependably funny high camp presence in the plays of Paul Rudnick. He most recently ended a run in Broadway's short-lived Never Gonna Dance. Burke Moses created the role of Gaston in Disney's Beauty and the Beast. Since then, the muscle-bound actor has gone on to replace Brian Stokes Mitchell in Kiss Me, Kate. Siberry's best know credit is Captain von Trapp in the 1998 Broadway revival of The Sound of Music.

A comedian as well as an actor, John Byner is a well known face from television and film. He got his start making appearances on the "Tonight" show in the early '60s and was a regular on "Laugh-In," "The Garry Moore Show" and "The Steve Allen Comedy Hour." He had his own television show in 1972. He played Detective Donahue on "Soap." He was also the voice of the Aardvark in the cartoon series "The Ant and the Aardvark"—a voicing often mistakenly credited to Jackie Mason. He is renowned for his impressions, including various presidents and a dead-on Ed Sullivan.

Sondheim told The New York Times that he has added several new songs to the score, and Burt Shevelove's original book has been updated by Tony Award winner Nathan Lane, who will star in the production as Dionysos.Chris Kattan — of "Saturday Night Live" fame — will co-star as Lane's cynical slave.

The Frogs, piloted by director-choreographer Susan Stroman, will have its first preview June 17, open July 15 and run until Oct. 3. About the production composer Sondheim told the Times, "It's not a revival. The old one was only about 40 minutes long. Nathan has really expanded it, and four-fifths is his now." Composer-lyricist Sondheim and librettist Shevelove wrote the show for a production staged in the Yale swimming pool in 1974. That cast included newcomers Christopher Durang, Meryl Streep and Sigourney Weaver, among others. The ancient play focuses on a debate between Aeschylus and Euripides, to determine who is the greater artist. The winner of the contest returned to Earth with Dionysus to save civilization.

In Sondheim and Shevelove's version, the story is updated with a debate between William Shakespeare and George Bernard Shaw and has traditionally required elaborate special effects, a large cast of actors skilled in both acting and swimming and an exhibition pool in which they perform.

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