Sondheim’s Frogs at Jermyn Street Theatre – Matus and Rae head cast

The Frogs Michael Matus George RaeThe 2004 Broadway re-working of Stephen Sondheim’s quirky musical comedy The Frogs, presented by House on the Hill Productions, will receive its UK premiere at London’s Jermyn Street Theatre from 14 March until 8 April.

With a book revised and expanded by Nathan Lane, based on Sondheim and Burt Shevelove’s original 1974 work, the production will feature West End stars Michael Matus (Peter and the Starcatcher, The Phantom of the Opera) as Dionysos and George Rae (Grand Hotel, Spamalot) as Xanthias.

The cast also includes Bernadette Bangura (Ragtime, Charing Cross Theatre), Martin Dickinson (Promises Promises, Southwark Playhouse), Chris McGuigan (Through the Mill, London Theatre Workshop), Li-Tong Hsu (Here Lies Love, National Theatre), Nigel Pilkington (The Showstoppers), Emma Ralston (Into the Woods) and Jonathan Wadey (previously at Jermyn Street Theatre in House on the Hill’s UK premiere of Natural Affection).

Director Grace Wessels heads a creative team that includes musical director Tim Sutton, designer Gregor Donnelly and lighting designer Tim Mascall, with movement by Tim McArthur.

Very loosely based on an Ancient Greek comedy by Aristophanes, Sondheim and Shevelove’s The Frogs was originally performed in Yale University’s gymnasium’s swimming pool in 1974 by an ensemble that included Sigourney Weaver and Meryl Streep.

The writer of the current version of the show, Broadway favourite Lane revealed he decided to expand the piece after 9/11. He said: “After September 11…I started to think, there’s something in this piece right now. There’s something idealistic about the notion of someone believing that the arts can make a difference. I found it moving, in light of what is going on in the world.”

Lane’s version, which moved the show away from the initial ensemble format and included seven new songs written by Sondheim, opened on Broadway in 2004, with Lane starring as Dionysus and Roger Bart as Xanthias.

Angela Thomas

www.jermynstreettheatre.co.uk

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