Tuesday, November 07, 2023

The Frogs

The time is the present. The place is Ancient Greece. The fabulous lyrics and music are by the one-and-only Sondheim. The hysterical book is based on Aristophanes' The Frogs, as loosely adapted by Burt Shevelove and then loosely-er adapted and readapted by Nathan Lane. The brilliant cast includes Lane as the Host, along with Douglas Sills, Kevin Chamberlin, Peter Bartlett, Dylan Baker, Chuck Cooper, Marc Kudisch, Jordan Donica, and Candice Corbin. The chorus is the magnificent MasterVoices. The fabulous choreography is by Lainie Sakakura. The wonderful evening is conducted and directed by the invaluable Ted Sperling. Once again, the MasterVoices hits a grand slam home run.

The basic story of The Frogs is simple: the demi-god Dionysus, despairing of the state of the world (same as it ever was), goes to Hades to bring back George Bernard Shaw, believing that Shaw's writing can open up people's eyes and inspire them to save the world. As it happens, Shaw has to debate Shakespeare, and Dionysus decides that Shaw's brilliant logic lacks the power of Shakespeare's poetry. Shakespeare agrees to go back to earth, and the final song exhorts the audience to "shake your ass" and do something to make the world better.

Photo: Erin Baiano

Can art inspire people to save the world? I don't know. But art itself makes the world a better place. What is more glorious than watching some 150 people work together to make something ephemeral and beautiful? Seeing shows reminds me that people can be generous, loving, and cooperative. Seeing shows almost makes up for reading the news.

One thing: when this show is done again, forget Shaw and Shakespeare. The artist the show should bring back is Sondheim.

Photo: Erin Baiano

Wendy Caster

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