The Frogs is coming to Glasgow (Photo: Julie Howden)
The Frogs is coming to Glasgow (Photo: Julie Howden)

Scottish Opera Young Company to stage The Frogs

The Scottish Opera Young Company is bringing Stephen Sondheim’s zany and rambunctious musical comedy The Frogs to Glasgow for two performances this spring.

Taking place at the Royal Concert Hall’s New Auditorium, on 8 and 9 April, this is the first time the company has taken on a piece from the world of music theatre.

Glasgow’s much-loved writer, director and pantomime dame Johnny McKnight (Last One Out, 2013) directs Sondheim’s rarely performed screwball musical, with Jonathon Swinard, Young Company’s artistic director, conducting the young performers, who are aged 17 to 23.

The Young Company, which staged Gluck’s Orfeo & Euridice in 2019 to great acclaim, is joined by professional musical theatre performers Darren Brownlie and Neil Thomas. Scottish Opera scenic artist Neil Haynes provides the set design with costumes by Aileen Sherry.

Adapted by Burt Shevelove from the one act comedy by Aristophanes, with music and lyrics by Sondheim, the composer of Sweeney Todd and Into the Woods, The Frogs tells the tale of the Greek God of music and wine, Dionysus. He has had enough, and the political landscape is torturous, with fake news giving him fatigue.

The people have stopped believing in beauty and truth, but he is convinced he can change things, embarking on a treacherous journey to the Underworld to bring back George Bernard Shaw from the dead and save civilisation through the power of art.

Will he overcome his fear of syncopated singing frogs to reach his final destination? Will William Shakespeare out-poet Shaw? And will Dionysus ever pull off that faux-fur outfit given to him by his step-brother Herakles?

The Frogs is coming to Glasgow (Photo: Julie Howden)

Director Johnny McKnight said: ‘The Frogs is a real treasure amidst the catalogue of the genius that is Stephen Sondheim. The music is deceptively complex and couched within a script that borrows from Comedia dell’arte, traditional music hall and farce.

‘It seeks to entertain through the surreal and mischievous whilst also hiding underneath the narrative something very prescient for our time – when our leaders are failing us and hiding the truth who will speak to and for us? It’s a brilliantly funny book with hilarious lyrics, and I think it will offer not only a great night’s entertainment but a fantastic challenge for our Scottish Opera Young Company to sink their teeth into.’

Scottish Opera Young Company artistic director Jonathon Swinard, said: ‘Sondheim’s music for The Frogs is amphibiously ambitious and toad-tappingly catchy – Scottish Opera Young Company’s staging of this sophisticated score is smarter than even the most excessive sibilance can express!’

The Frogs is supported by the Gordon Fraser Charitable Trust, James Wood Bequest Fund, The W.A. Cargill Fund, The William Syson Charitable Foundation, The Jennie S Gordon Memorial Trust, The Dunclay Charitable Trust and Scottish Opera’s Education Angels.

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