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The Frogs

Sondheim wrote the score for Burt Shevelove's adaptation of Aristophanes's The Frogs, which was staged in a swimming pool as part of the Yale Repertory Theatre's season. In Aristophanes's version, the play is largely a debate between Aeschylus and Euripides, to determine who is the greater artist, with the winner of the contest to return to Earth with Dionysus to save civilization. In Shevelove's version, the plot remains much the same, but the contest is updated to be a debate between Shakespeare and Shaw. (Aeschylus and Shakespeare win).

The production is mainly famous because of it's cast - Yale drama students who were nobodies at the time, but went on to great things, including Larry Blyden (Dionysos), Christopher Durang, Meryl Streep, and Sigourney Weaver.

The score consists of only a few songs. "Invocation to the Gods and Instructions to the Audience" borrowed from an early attempt at an opening number for A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, and the "Instructions" later used (with some updated lyrics) in Putting it Together.

After years of waiting for the full score to be recorded, Sondheim fans finally got their wish in 2001, when Nonesuch released a studio recording with Nathan Lane, Brian Stokes Mitchell and Davis Gaines.

"Invocation and Instructions to the Audience" and "Fear No More" can be heard on "A Stephen Sondheim Evening", which is a recording of a Whitney Museum tribute to Sondheim from 1981. That concert was turned into a revue called You're Gonna' Love Tomorrow. Much of the material from that recording (including the songs from "The Frogs") can also be heard on A Collector's Sondheim. The updated "Instructions to the Audience" can be heard on the OCR of Putting it Together.

- June Abernathy

Show Data

Opened May 20, 1974
Closed May 27, 1974
Ran 8 Performances
Theatre Yale University Swimming Pool
Music Stephen Sondheim
Lyrics Stephen Sondheim
Written by Aristophanes (in 405 BC)
Producer Yale Repertory Theatre
Staged Burt Shevelove
Scene Designer Michael H. Yeargan
Costume Designer Jeanne Button
Lighting Designer Carol M. Waaser
Selections from William Shakespeare
  George Bernard Shaw
Selected/Arranged Michael Feingold
Musical Direction Don Jennings
Orchestrations Jonathan Tunick

Musical Numbers:

  1. Prologos: Invocation to the Gods and Instructions to the Audience
  2. Parodos: The Frogs
  3. Hymnos: Dionysos
  4. Parabasis: It's Only a Play
  5. Paean: Evoe for the Dead
  6. Exodos: The Sound of Poets
  7. Fear No More
  8. Travel Music

Original Cast:

Xanthias Michael Vale
Herakles Dan Desmond
Charon Charles Levin
Hierophantes Ron Recasner
Aeakos Alvin Epstein
A Handmaiden Carmen de Lavallade
Innkeeper's Wife Carmen de Lavallade
Innkeeper Stephen R. Lawson
Pluto Jeremy Dempsey
William Shakespeare Jerome Geidt
Bernard Shaw Anthony Holland
Guards Joseph Costa
  Jonathan Marks
  Paul Schierhorn
  Gil Rochon III
Flagbearers Christopher Brown
  Darryl Hill
Singers Joan Berliner
  Peter Bogyo
  Alma Cuervo
  Franchelle Stewart Dorn
  Christopher Durang
  Beth Hatton
  Brock Holmes
  Richard Larsen
  Stephen R. Lawson
  Susan LeFevre
  Robert Picardo
  Ron Recasner
  Gil Rochon III
  Stephen Rowe
  Jeremy Smith
  Kate McGregor-Stewart
  Meryl Streep
  David Thomas
  Scott Ulmer
  Bob Van Nest
  Sigourney Weaver
  Donald Woodall
Dancers Diana Belshaw
  Linda K. Harold
  Ron Porter
  Nora Peterson
  Diana Raffman
  Susan Strassburger
  Alfonso Wilson
  Kathryn Woglom
Frogs Steve Edelson
  Wade Agurcia
  Michael Armstrong
  Robert Barnett
  Michael Cadden
  Jack Callahan
  Gary Cavaliere
  Peter Crawford
  David B. Fisher
  Ed Hornsby
  Alexander Lawler
  Quentin Lawler
  Frank Lawlor
  Kevin Lawlor
  Dave Lichten
  Pat Monahan
  Ralph Redpath
  Curt Sanburn
  Ted Stein
  Jose A. Taboada
  Richard Taus


  1. 2001 Studio Cast Recording (Nonesuch)

Secondary performance rights handled by Dramatic Publishing

Discuss this show in's community forum: Finishing the Chat... ››



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Assassins is about how society interprets the American Dream, marginalizes outsiders and rewrites and sanitizes its collective history. "Something Just Broke" is a major distraction and plays like an afterthought, shoe horned simply to appease. The song breaks the dramatic fluidity and obstructs the overall pacing and climactic arc which derails the very intent and momentum that makes this work so compelling...”
- Mark Bakalor

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“I found [the Sondheim Celebration's Company] to be completely delightful. Almost all of the numbers excited and energized me, and most of the scenes were about as pitch-perfect as you can get. I just sat there with a big smile on my face the whole show.

Which is not to say that it is perfect...”
- popcornonmyknees

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Music, Books & More
Elaine Stritch
With three hand-held cameras, one major theatrical milestone and nearly nineteen hours of footage, this rare and intimate look with Original Cast Album - Company is a must for any Sondheim fan.

DVD: $26.96
VHS: $24.95

One of Sondheim's most beloved works is sure to be Sunday in the Park with George, available on DVD, video tape, and CD.

CD: $13.99
DVD: $25.49
VHS: $19.98

Nathan Lane
All Sondheim completists are sure to now own the first complete recording of The Frogs coupled with Evening Primrose. Do you?

CD: $18.97

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