It was previously announced that Lane, not known as an author, was trying his hand at rewriting the piece, which was originally adapted by Burt Shevelove from Aristophanes' 405 B.C. play.
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.
Lincoln Center atistic director Andre Bishop told the industry paper, Variety, "Nathan has done some reworking of the book. He has fleshed out the script." Bishop also added, "Sondheim might write some more songs for this version, to make it more of a full evening."
The Chicago troupe, Pegasus Players, has announced that it would stage the work (in an unrelated production) April 8-May 25, 2004—just before the Lincoln Center production, which will play the Vivian Beaumont Theatre.
The Lincoln Center Staging will give composer Stephen Sondheim three Broadway productions during 2004—all at nonprofits. The other two, Assassins and Pacific Overtures, will be produced at the Roundabout Theatre Company.