- This article is about the play by Aristophanes. The Frogs is also a controversial rock band. See The Frogs.
The Frogs tells the story of how the god Dionysus, despairing of the quality of living tragedians, travels to Hades to bring Euripides back from the dead. Aeschylus challenges Euripides to a competition for the title of best playwright, which he wins. Dionysus chooses to bring Aeschylus back instead.
Stephen Sondheim and Burt Shevelove "freely adapted" The Frogs into a musical, performed in Yale's gymnasium's swimming pool, in the mid-70s. Again Dionysus, despairing of the quality of living dramatists, travels to Hades to bring George Bernard Shaw back from the dead. William Shakespeare competes with Shaw for the title of best playwright, which he wins. Dionysus chooses to bring Shakespeare back instead, thereby improving the world, and its political situation. This original production is most famous for having Meryl Streep, Sigourney Weaver and Christopher Durang in its ensemble. Sondheim described the acoustics of the original production thusly: "It was like performing in a urinal."
A revival production, "even more freely adapted" by Nathan Lane, opened on Broadway in July 2004, with Nathan Lane and Roger Bart headlining. (Chris Kattan had co-starred in previews, but dropped out a week before the premiere and was replaced by Bart.) John Byner , Daniel Lewis , Peter Bartlett , Burke Moses , and Michael Siberry all appear in lesser roles, with a young and attractive chorus dancing and performing acrobatics, and frog ballet on bungee cords.
Songs include the "Invocation and Instructions to the Audience" ("Don't fart. There's very little air and this is art.); "I Love to Travel"; "Dress Big"; "All Aboard"; "Ariadne"; "The Frogs" ("Brek-kek-kek-kek, Brek-kek-kek-kek! Whaddaya care the world's a wreck? Leave 'em alone and send a check. Sit in the sun and what the heck, whaddaya wanna break your neck for? What for? Big deal! Big bore!); "Hymn to Dionysos" ("We are come to thank you for the gentle tendrils that intertwine to produce the grapes that produce the wine... Out of wine comes truth, out of truth the vision clears, and with vision soon appears a grand design. From the grand design we can understand the world. And when you understand the world, you need a lot more wine."); "Hades"; "It's Only a Play" ("Words are merely chatter, and easy to say. It doesn't really matter, It's only a play. It's only so much natter which somebody wrote. And the world's still afloat so it's hardly a note for today"); "Shaw", and "Fear No More".
- Text of the play from The Internet Classics Archive.