Sondheim's The Frogs Will Splash in Chicago, Spring 2004

News   Sondheim's The Frogs Will Splash in Chicago, Spring 2004
Stephen Sondheim and Burt Shevelove's quirky musical, The Frogs, will make a splash again in its original swimming-pool concept, April 8-May 25, 2004, by the respected non-Equity Chicago troupe, Pegasus Players.

News of the revival of the 1974 show, based on the 450 B.C. play by Aristophanes, comes at a time when Lincoln Center Theatre is separately exploring the musical for a revised revival developed and reshaped by actor-writer Nathan Lane and director-choreographer Susan Stroman.

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 requires elaborate special effects, a large cast of actors skilled in both acting and swimming and an exhibition pool in which they perform, according to 2003-04 season announcement by Pegasus. The company, run by artistic director Arlene Crewdson, previously produced the Chicago premiere of The Frogs in 1988. Pegasus will make a splash at Truman College's swimming pool. The developing LCT Frogs is not expected to be performed in an Olympic-sized pool.

Sondheim has been well represented by the Pegasus company, and he allowed it to stage the first U.S. production of his early musical, Saturday Night, following a run in the U.K. and prior to a separate Off-Broadway run.

Pegasus' upcoming 25th anniversary includes two more popular past hits by Pegasus (The State of Mississippi Vs. Emmett Till and Broadway Bound by Neil Simon) and the world premiere of Chicago broadcaster John Callaway's John Callaway's Life Is...Maintenance. Pegasus Players was recently nominated for 12 Joseph Jefferson Awards Citations for productions in its 200- 2003 season (with the awards ceremony to be held June 9).

Written by David Barr and Emmett Till's mother, Mamie Till Mobley, The State of Mississippi Vs. Emmett Till, tells "the harrowing story of Emmett Till, a 14-year-old African-American boy from Chicago who was beaten, mutilated and killed after being accused of whistling at a white woman in Mississippi in 1955," Pegasus announced. "The story focuses on Emmett Till's mother and her dedication to making sure that Emmett's death not go unnoticed. Due to her courage and persistence, Emmett's death became a national issue and was the springboard for the Civil Rights movement." The play was first produced at Pegasus during its 1999-2000 season and received critical acclaim. It returns to open the fall 2003 season, Sept. 5-Oct. 19.

Simon's autobiographical Broadway Bound runs Nov. 1-Dec. 14. Pegasus produced the Chicago premiere of the painful comedy in 1990.

The 18th Annual Young Playwrights Festival plays Jan. 9–Feb. 1, 2004. With over 500 submissions for the 2003–04 season, "the entries address issues as varied as religion, dating, family, war, college, and hopes for the future." Four winning plays will be selected and performed at Pegasus Players in January 2004.

John Callaway's Life is...Maintenance (March 5 April 11, 2004), a followup to the "veteran broadcast journalist's first Pegasus show in 2001." In the first show, Callaway told coming-of-age stories about growing up in West Virginia and hitchhiking to Chicago with seven cents in his pocket. In this new world premiere, "Callaway's stories will focus on coming to terms with life, including why getting up and getting out the door at the age of 66 requires more steps than major transplant surgery. As Callaway celebrates what he calls the 'miracles of the mundane' – successfully replacing a computer printer ink cartridge or learning how to apply eye drops 10 times a day after cataract surgery – he will also explain his 'Honey, will you get the skim milk?' theory of why U.S. intelligence services so often fail and why American foreign policy is necessarily and appropriately 'imperial.' "

All of this will be punctuated by Callaway's singing of several ballads and his mastery of basketball's fade-away jump shot – "just in case anyone thought his splendid performance of the no-step drop kick in his first Pegasus show was some kind of athletic fluke."

Tickets for the 2003-2004 season are now available. Single tickets go on sale July 1. Pegasus Players is located at the O'Rourke Center of Truman College at 1145 W. Wilson Avenue, Chicago. For additional information call (773) 878-9761 or visit

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