Original Broadway Cast

The Frogs (Original Broadway Cast Recording)

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The Frogs (Original Broadway Cast Recording) Review

by Patsy Morita

The Stephen Sondheim of A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum is back, sort of, in The Frogs. Burt Shevelove, who wrote the book for Forum, updated Aristophanes' play, and Sondheim wrote both music and lyrics for its first production at Yale in 1974. Thirty years later, Nathan Lane expanded the original story, and Sondheim wrote six new songs for a limited Broadway run of The Frogs. Lane is excellent in the role of Dionysos in this cast recording, and the supporting players are great as well. It starts out as funny and fast-paced as anything in Forum, giving hope to those who don't like the overly serious and intellectual nature of Sondheim's usual work, but it can't seem to sustain that spirit through to the end. It opens in a similar fashion to Forum, in fact using an address directed at the audience that had been tried as the opening to Forum. Then follows the journey of Dionysos and Xanthias as they go to the Hades to find George Bernard Shaw (rather than Euripides), and return with Shakespeare (rather than Aeschylus). A pseudo-ancient-sounding fanfare opens the proceedings, with quirky harmonies that also accompany the snappy repartee in the "Instructions to the Audience." The repartee is quick-witted, at times stinging and sparkling, and carries on through "I Love to Travel," "Dress Big," and "Shaw." The last plays on the song "You Did It" from My Fair Lady and quotes Shaw's epigrams, further layering the referential humor. "Ariadne," one of the new songs, is slower and much more like what is expected from Sondheim, although it is not nearly as emotionally concentrated as his typical narrative ballads, at least as it is sung by Lane. And it is immediately followed by the ingenious chorus of "The Frogs," which combines Aristophanes' original onomatopoeic lyrics, "Row, row, row your boat," and lines from "Old Man River." However, by the end of the play, the more serious-minded Sondheim has returned, philosophical and reproachful, and essentially quashing the humor. True, Aristophanes' original does not have a laugh-a-minute ending either, but as Sondheim tries to match the ending with the beginning, using another address to the audience, the temperament is so opposite that it seems as if it is from a different play altogether.

Track Listing

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time Stream
The Frogs, musical play
1 The Orchestra 01:18 Amazon
The Frogs, musical play (revised version)
2 Original Broadway Cast feat: Ryan L. Ball / Bryn Dowling / Rebecca Eichenberger / Meg Gillentine / Pia C. Glenn / Tyler Hanes / Francesca Harper 03:45 Amazon
3 Original Broadway Cast feat: Roger Bart / Nathan Lane 00:38 Amazon
4 Original Broadway Cast feat: Ryan L. Ball / Roger Bart / Bryn Dowling / Rebecca Eichenberger / Meg Gillentine / Pia C. Glenn / Tyler Hanes / Nathan Lane 04:03 Amazon
5 Original Broadway Cast feat: Roger Bart / Nathan Lane / Burke Moses 03:52 Amazon
6 Original Broadway Cast feat: Roger Bart / Nathan Lane 01:13 Amazon
7 John Byner 01:36 Amazon
8 Original Broadway Cast feat: Roger Bart / Nathan Lane 01:21 Amazon
9 Nathan Lane 03:35 Amazon
10 Original Broadway Cast feat: Ryan L. Ball / Bryn Dowling / Rebecca Eichenberger / Meg Gillentine / Pia C. Glenn / Tyler Hanes / Francesca Harper / Nathan Lane 07:26 Amazon
11 Original Broadway Cast feat: Ryan L. Ball / Bryn Dowling / Rebecca Eichenberger / Meg Gillentine / Pia C. Glenn / Tyler Hanes / Francesca Harper 06:00 Amazon
12 Original Broadway Cast feat: Peter Bartlett / Bryn Dowling / Meg Gillentine / Francesca Harper / Jessica Howard / Naomi Kakuk 04:11 Amazon
13 Original Broadway Cast feat: Ryan L. Ball / Bryn Dowling / Rebecca Eichenberger / Meg Gillentine / Pia C. Glenn / Tyler Hanes / Francesca Harper 04:33 Amazon
14 Original Broadway Cast feat: Daniel Orion Davis / Rebecca Eichenberger / Meg Gillentine / Tyler Hanes / Francesca Harper / Nathan Lane / David Lowenstein / Win 04:16 Amazon
15 Original Broadway Cast feat: Daniel Orion Davis / Nathan Lane / Michael Siberry 01:40 Amazon
16 Michael Siberry 02:05 Amazon
17 John Byner 00:42 Amazon
18 Original Broadway Cast feat: Ryan L. Ball / Bryn Dowling / Rebecca Eichenberger / Meg Gillentine / Pia C. Glenn / Tyler Hanes / Francesca Harper 02:48 Amazon
19 Original Broadway Cast feat: Company / Nathan Lane 01:42 Amazon
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