Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
|Stephen Sondheim, Nathan Lane, John Byner|
The Frogs (2004 Broadway Cast)
Genres: Pop, Soundtracks, Broadway & Vocalists
For a long time, Stephen Sondheim's 1974 compact offering The Frogs was known for two things. It was originally staged in Yale's swimming pool with a chorus that included Sigourney Weaver and Meryl Street; and its song "In... more »
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For a long time, Stephen Sondheim's 1974 compact offering The Frogs was known for two things. It was originally staged in Yale's swimming pool with a chorus that included Sigourney Weaver and Meryl Street; and its song "Invocation and Instructions to the Audience" has become a perennial in Sondheim tributes and cabaret shows. The show was given a belated studio recording in 2001 with Nathan Lane in the lead role of Dionysus. Lane then went back for more--literally, since he adapted and expanded Burt Shevelove's book--and Sondheim wrote several new songs. Finally, The Frogs was a full-length musical, staged in 2004. New tracks "I Love to Travel" and "Ariadne" are on par with Sondheim's best--the first a bouncy song, the latter a wrenching love song that could become a new recital favorite. While this recording is more enjoyable than the actual show, which could be a bit of a slog, it's hard to shake the feeling that maybe The Frogs should have remained a curio. --Elisabeth Vincentelli
Just so everyone knows, there IS a better recording.....
The Cosmoknot | Scarsdale, NY United States | 07/15/2005
(2 out of 5 stars)
"I happen to love stephen sondheim. that does not mean that every production of sondheim is going to be golden. to prove that, he gave us Bounce. but seriously. The Frogs has some really intelligent music, which is quite apparent. But when you buy this soundtrack that I am reviewing, you are buying the final stop in a devolution of a good piece. It was mentioned that The Frogs was first performed in a swimming pool at Yale, and now it became this Broadway spectacle but now you can buy that original version that starred not only Nathan Lane, but also Brian Stokes Mitchell and Davis Gaines, who, as many of you know, are phenomenal. This talented trio brings the show home, something that Lanes later on with a weaker cast and plodding additions can not do. By buying the earlier version (also sold on amazon), you will acquire a soundtrack that just sounds a whole lot better.
But wait. There's more. When they released the original Frogs, they slapped Evening Primrose on as well, another obscure Sondheim. Luckily for us, it is one of the better ones. Some of Neil Patrick Harris' songs are really incredible, and ones' only regret about Primrose is that it only lasts for four songs. Yet these four songs stand out so much, that they have established Primrose as one of the stronger Sondheim works.
Here is what it comes down to. When you buy this version of The Frogs, the 2004 recording, you get a show that closed early, its ticket sales were so poor, with additional mediocre music. BUT. If you purchase The Frogs/Evening Primrose, you get a better cast, better songs, and an additional amazing Sondheim.
As Captain Planet would say: The Choice Is Yours."
Looking for a metamorphosis
Richard LeComte | Tuscaloosa, AL | 03/15/2005
(3 out of 5 stars)
"I listened to this album twice while driving in the Nevada wilderness. Nathan Lane is always a charming person to spend some time with, even if he's just a voice coming out of my CD player. The problems the critics identified in the Lincoln Center production are vaguely apparent on the recording: With the exception of "Shaw" and "Ariadne," the songs sound like Sondheim using half his considerable brain -- the songs are clever, but they're not tied to the passions or thoughts of complex characters. The final song really is a letdown -- it's a call to action, but to do what? And the humor presented in the dialogue is pretty routine. Still, you should by this if you're either a Sondheim or a Broadway score completist, and there are several minor rewards."
Sondheim Aficianados, Jump to It!
Music Man | Boston MA | 01/27/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Being a Sondheim fan is a chronic exercise in exhiliration and frustration, and the newly refurbished score of "The Frogs" provides no exception to the rule. Stretched to 2 1/2 hours on the stage of the Vivien Beaumont, last summer's lumpen production exposed a slight effort collapsing under the weight of its own ambitions. What is preserved here, for better and worse, is also the best of what was offered. It's a mixed bag, for sure, with a handful of floppo numbers surrounded by beautiful examples of Sondheim at his best. The famous opening "Instructions to the Audience" is cute rather than funny, and that's no compliment. In addition, Sondheim continues his 20-year tradition of composing over-rhymed patter songs with the lyrics laid across note clusters in rhythmic cadences. "Dress Big" and "Hades" are the culprits here. In these songs, the words run away with themselves in true "Gilbert and Sullivan" fashion and you get riffs instead of melodies. Worse, they both sound VERRRY familiar. And "It's only a Play" is downright irritating, with Nathan Lane's broad liberal polemics juxtaposed with another annoying Sondheim jab at "critics" (didn't he exorcise this demon twenty years ago with "Merrily..." and "Sunday in the Park"?). Still, there's a lot of good stuff here. The jaunty "I Love to Travel" has a delightful swing to it and is very "atypical" Sondheim. The gourgeous "Ariadne" is equal to any of his classic ballads, once again proving that this talented composer is a true melodic master, and the moving "Fear No More" strikes just the right note of melancholy mixed with longing. The march-like title song, so over the top on stage, here preserves its ominous, foreboding tension and frames the score with chilling intensity. The cast is a bit of a mixed bag, though mostly they do just fine. Nathan Lane is, as usual, Nathan Lane. However, his comic timing remains exquisite and his singing voice is rather better than some would have it. Peter Bartlett brings zest to his every word and Michael Siberry, in particular, shines in his showcase "Fear No More". No, this isn't a masterpiece. However, there's enough here to more than satisfy any musical theater fan. Of course, Sondheim fans will be delighted that an almost new, fullblown work from the master is now available for public consumption. All aboard."