THE FROGS, was a new musical by composer/lyricist Stephen Sondheim, director/ choreographer Susan Stroman and, in his debut as a librettist, Nathan Lane. First freely adapted from Aristophanes' ancient comedy by Burt Shevelove in 1974, THE FROGS was even more freely adapted by Lane, who also headed a cast of twenty-eight actors, singers and dancers. THE FROGS featured new songs by Sondheim and reunited Stroman and Lane for the first time since their Tony® Award-winning adventure, The Producers.
This boisterously hilarious yet poignant musical follows Dionysos (Nathan Lane), Greek god of wine and drama, and his slave Xanthias on a journey to Hades to bring back an extraordinary writer who, by providing words of wit and wisdom, will help save mankind from destruction.
The history of THE FROGS spans many years (if not centuries!). Shevelove's adaptation of the play was first performed at Yale in 1941. Then, over thirty years later, Sondheim wrote several songs for the show, and his and Shevelove's adaptation of THE FROGS premiered in 1974 featuring students of the Yale Drama School in a university swimming pool. Another thirty years later, after appearing in a concert of the rarely performed Sondheim score in 2000, Lane, having already persuaded Stroman to join the project, approached the composer/lyricist with the idea of further adapting the show into a full-length work, switching the setting from a swimming pool to the Beaumont stage.
Asked about her interest in directing THE FROGS, Stroman said, "When I realized that Athens in 405 B.C. was facing the same problems we're struggling with today, I was completely intrigued. And since Aristophanes was considered to be the satirist of his time, it seemed like the perfect part for Nathan Lane."
Lane continued: "There's something in this piece right now - where the country is and for me in particular - there's something idealistic about the notion of believing that the arts can make a difference. You can affect a change. And in THE FROGS, that is Dionysos' dream - to go down to Hades and bring back this great writer. The belief that that could actually have an effect on the world is noble and touching and crazy - all at the same time."