The Frogs Songlist Contains Altered Titles and New Sondheim Songs

News   The Frogs Songlist Contains Altered Titles and New Sondheim Songs
 
The Frogs, the newly revamped version of Stephen Sondheim and Burt Shevelove's Aristophanes-inspired 1974 musical oddity, began previews June 22 at the Vivian Beaumont Theatre.

Susan Stroman directs and choreographs the show, which features a half dozen new songs by Sondheim and marks star Lane's first attempt at writing a musical theatre libretto.

About the production, Sondheim told the New York Times, "It's not a revival. The old one was only about 40 minutes long. Nathan has really expanded it."

The songlist has also expanded. As of the first preview, the score ran as follows:

"Invocation and Instructions to the Audience"
"I Love to Travel"
"Dress Big"
"I Love to Travel"
"All Aboard"
"Adriadne"
"The Frogs"
"Hymn to Dionysos"
"Hades"
"It's Only a Play"
"Shaw"
"All Aboard"
"Fear No More" (lyrics from Shakespeare's Cymbeline)
"Hymn to Dionysos"

The songlist of a 2001 recording of the 1974 score ran as follows:

"Fanfare"
"Prologue: Invocation and Instructions to the Audience"
"Traveling Music"
"Parados: The Frogs"
"Hymnos: Evoe!"
"Dialogue: 'Pluto!'"
"Parabasis: It's Only a Play"
"Dialogue: 'That Was Some Banquet!'"
"Evoe for the Dead"
"Invocation to the Muses"
"Fear No More"
"Exodos: The Sound of Poets"

Opening is July 22 for a healthy run which stretches until Oct. 10.

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Nathan Lane stars as Dionysos in the musical, which is based on the Aristophanes classic. 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 Dionysos to save civilization.

Sondheim (Assassins) and librettist Burt Shevelove wrote the show for a production staged in the Yale swimming pool in 1974. The story was updated to feature 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. (No massive pool is being added into the Vivian Beaumont at Lincoln Center Theater.)

That 1974 cast included Larry Blyden as Dionysos, Michael Vale as his slave, Charles Levin as Charon, Jerome Dempsey as Pluto, Jeremy Geidt as Shakespeare and Anthony Holland as Shaw. There was also a large chorus of Yale students which included Christopher Durang, Meryl Streep and Sigourney Weaver, among others.

Two of the more known songs to emerge from the show are "Fear No More," a setting of Shakespeare verse by Sondheim, and "Invocation to the Gods and Instructions to the Audience," which was once the opening number of the score of A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum (replaced by "Comedy Tonight"), and was later heard in a revised form in the revue, Putting It Together.

Chris Kattan will play Zanthias, Lane's slave, in the new production. Kattan is a star of "Saturday Night Live." Also in the cast are John Byner (Charon), Peter Bartlett (Pluto), Daniel Davis (Shaw), Burke Moses (Herakles) and Michael Siberry (Shakespeare).

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