The Frogs: Abridged

                                     THE FROGS:
                            A "Broadway Abridged" Script
                                                            By Gil Varod





            SCENE: LINCOLN CENTER


                                   Nathan Lane and Roger Bart enter onto
                                   stage in front of curtain.


                                   NATHAN LANE
            Playgoers, I bid you welcome.  The theatre is a temple and we
            are here to worship the gods of comedy and trag--
                          (coughs)
            Oh, sorry, wrong show.
                          (clears throat)
            Patrons of the Theatre, I am Nathan Lane.  You may remember
            me from shows such as "The Producers".  Also... other things. 
            In this show, I play "Nathan Lane", the God of Sarcastic One
            Liners.


                                   ROGER BART
            And I am Roger Bart.  You may remember me in famous parts
            such as Carmen Ghia in "The Producers", as well as Leo Bloom
            in "The Producers" after Matthew Broderick left.  Also...
            other things.  
            In this show, I play Roger Bart, God of Covering Nathan
            Lane's Ass When Chris Kattan Doesn't Want to Work With Him
            Anymore.


                                   DIRECTOR/CHOREOGRAPHER 
                                   SUSAN STROMAN
                          (entering)
            And I'm Director/Choreographer Susan Stroman.  You may
            remember me as the Director/Choreographer for such Broadway
            Musicals as "The Producers".  Also, other things.


                                   MEL BROOKS
                          (climbing up a rope from a
                           center-stage trap door)
            And I'm Mel Brooks.  And in this show, I play the part of
            "Guy Who Didn't Have to Do Anything With The Play At All". 
            Which might explain why another show with Nathan Lane, Roger
            Bart, and Susan Stroman is not necessarily a "Producers" the
            second time around.  Ah, ha ha ha ha ha!


                                   Mel Brooks continues laughing and
                                   climbing up to the rafters on the rope,
                                   which we see is actually made of Tony
                                   Awards in Mel Brooks' likeness.


                                   NATHAN LANE
            Right Mel, you didn't write this play, I did!  I told Stephen
            Sondheim that I wanted to make his one-act musical "The
            Frogs" into a full-length musical which I would re-write the
            book for.


                                   COMPOSER/LYRICIST 
                                   STEPHEN SONDHEIM
                          (climbing up through a trap
                           door onto a rope made of
                           awards that most people have
                           never heard of)
            Hold on Nathan, that's not what you said at all.  You said
            Mel Brooks was the one who was going to write the b--


                                   Nathan Lane cuts the rope and Sondheim
                                   falls back through the trap door.


                                   NATHAN LANE
            And now, we start the play!






            SCENE: SOME GREEK SETUP, OR WHATEVER


                                   The chorus comes out dressed as a Greek
                                   Chorus.


                                   Clever, no?


                                   No.


                                   ENTIRE GREEK CHORUS
                          (shouting in unison)
            "The Frogs" was a play written by Aristophanes in the time
            when Athens was fighting Sparta.  


                                   ONE GREEK CHORUS MEMBER
            The Greek Chorus would occasionally spout random jabs at
            political figures, much like the opening monologue for Comedy
            Central's "The Daily Show" with Jon Stewart.


                                   ANOTHER GREEK CHORUS MEMBER
            However, when we do it, it's usually more like the opening
            monologue for MSNBC's "Hardball" with Chris Matthews.  In
            other words, 


                                   ENTIRE GREEK CHORUS
                          (in unison)
            IT PROBABLY WAS MORE ENTERTAINING BACK THEN THAN IT IS NOW.


                                   For no apparent reason, a greek vase in
                                   the background breaks in half and out
                                   roll Nathan Lane and Roger Bart.


                                   NATHAN LANE
            I hate frogs.  They're lazy, they hate making a difference,
            and they hate having to do anything *about* change!


                                   ROGER BART
            What the hell are you talking about?  Frogs?  Is this frog
            stuff even *based* on Greek Mythology?


                                   NATHAN LANE
                          (mugging, of course)
            See, in this play, the frogs are a metaphor for a complacent
            American citiz--


                                   ROGER BART
            --Athenian.


                                   NATHAN LANE
            Did I accidentally replace the word American with Athenian? 
            Whoops!
                          (to Audience)
            See, by extension I'm also talking about Americans because
            I'm making a parallel--


                                   ROGER BART
            Whatever.  I'll just hope that the random frog mentioning
            makes more sense later.  So what's our mission, Nathan Lane,
            God of Eternally Living In Zero Mostel's Shadow?


                                   NATHAN LANE
            Well, the world is a mess, so you and I are going to go back
            to Hades, the underworld of the dead, to bring back a great
            playwright.


                                   ROGER BART
            Why, so he can show you how to decently structure a plot?


                                   NATHAN LANE
            Um...


                                   ROGER BART
            Cause if you could go back to the underworld and get some
            playwriting help from one of the dead playwr--


                                   NATHAN LANE
            Actually, it's because our leaders are bad leaders.  We, THE
            ATHENIANS...
                          (winks at the audience)
            ...have a horrible government.


                                   Nathan Lane subtlely puts on a George
                                   W. Bush mask as he continues to
                                   blatantly express his political agenda.


                                   ROGER BART
                          (sighs)
            I think I suddenly understand why Chris Kattan left.  So
            which playwright are we bringing back?


                                   NATHAN LANE
            Shaw.


                                   ROGER BART
            Whee!  I, the stupid slave, don't know any plays he wrote.


                                   Nathan Lane waits for laughter.


                                   ROGER BART
            I said, I, the slave, don--


                                   NATHAN LANE
                          (whispering)
            Why aren't they laughing?


                                   ROGER BART
                          (whispering)
            I think the majority of the audience doesn't really know who
            George Bernard Shaw is.


                                   Silence.


                                   NATHAN LANE
                          (whispering)
            Uh, really?


                                   ROGER BART
                          (whispering)
            Yeah...


                                   NATHAN LANE
                          (whispering)
            Er... um...
                          (to audience, loud)
            You know, SHAW!  The one who wrote PYGMALION!


                                   More silence.  Crickets hop by, in
                                   Stephen-Sondheim-twelve-eight rhythm.


                                   NATHAN LANE (CONT'D)
            Yes, PYGMALION!  Which "My Fair Lady" was BASED ON!


                                   AUDIENCE
            Oh yeah!  Great movie musical with Audrey Hepburn!  Did this
            Shaw write the music for the movie?


                                   NATHAN LANE
                          (to audience, 
                          slightly relieved)
            Well, see, the "My Fair Lady" movie was based on a stage
            musical, which was based on a play, which was written by a
            guy who made huge contributions to theatrical... 


                                   Audience's eyes glaze over.


                                   NATHAN LANE
            Oh fuck it.


                                   ROGER BART
            We're screwed Nathan Lane, God of False Assumption.






            SCENE: THE HOUSE OF HERAKLES.


                                   HERAKLES
            Hi there.  I'm Herakles, and these are my nipples!


                                   Herakles flexes his nipples.


                                   Uncomfortable men in audience anxiously
                                   begin checking their Playbills to see
                                   if there are any hopeful warnings about
                                   possible female nudity later in the
                                   show.


                                   HERAKLES
            At one or two points in the show, other characters will
            mention that I'm not that bright, but you sure won't see it
            written into this scene at all!


                                   NATHAN LANE
            Herakles, we want to go to Hades.  How can we get there?


                                   HERAKLES
            Well first Nathan Lane, God of Mugging to the Audience, you
            should dress like me because people in Hades fear me!


                                   Herakles proceeds to dress Nathan Lane
                                   like himself, using many leftover jokes
                                   from Aida's "Strongest Suit".


                                   HERAKLES
            But you need to act like me too.


                                   Although Nathan Lane has been the "in
                                   control" character so far during the
                                   play, he spends the rest of this scene
                                   as the "second banana" with Herakles as
                                   the "in control" character.  This is
                                   confusing dramatically, killing much of
                                   the comedic dynamic built up in the
                                   past fifteen minutes. 






            SCENE: A BOAT ON THE CIRCUMFERENCE OF A BIG TURNTABLE
            ONSTAGE.


                                   BOAT FERRYMAN
            All aboard the boat on the River Styx to Hades!


                                   Nathan Lane and Roger Bart get on.


                                   ROGER BART
            Interesting, Nathan.  In your playwriting, you made it very
            convenient that only the two of us are on this boatride to
            the underworld.  What, is this the one day of the year that
            nobody died?


                                   NATHAN LANE
            Shh.  Ferryman, I am Herakles, now take us to hell.


                                   Ferryman begins spouting every Hell pun
                                   Nathan Lane could think of.


                                   CHILD IN AUDIENCE
            Mommy, why is this comedy so forced?


                                   MOTHER IN AUDIENCE
            I'll tell you when you're older, dear.


                                   The boat begins to go around the
                                   stage's turntable, which it will do 
                                   on and off for the next twenty minutes.


                                   BOAT FERRYMAN
            Hey, if you're Herakles, why don't you steer and it'll be
            faster.


                                   The boatman takes his hand off of the
                                   steer, causing the turntable to
                                   suddenly stop turning.


                                   NATHAN LANE
            Yes, because I'm the strong Herakles, I can steer faster!


                                   ROGER BART
            That makes no sense, Nathan.  Stronger people "steer faster"?


                                   Nathan Lane ignores, and steers.


                                   And by "steers", it means he puts his
                                   hand on the stick in the water so that
                                   the turntable can rotate again.  Of
                                   course, when nobody is steering a boat,
                                   it sure doesn't move or anything...


                                   Seriously.


                                   BOAT FERRYMAN
            Care for some weed, boys?


                                   ROGER BART
                          (looks at Nathan Lane
                           incredulously)
            Pot jokes?!?!?


                                   NATHAN LANE
                          (indignant)
            You know, we have another half of Act One left on this boat. 
            Maybe if you--


                                   ROGER BART
            Yeah, maybe if I'm high, it'll go by faster.  
                          (tokes)
            Hey, I know.  Nathan Lane, we've been doing just comedy.  Why
            don't we slow down the pace to a crawl by trying to be
            dramatic about something entirely irrelevant.


                                   NATHAN LANE
            Sure, I'll sing about my dead wife.  I need a segue though...
            I know.  Wow, look at the stars.  They remind my of my dea--


                                   COMPOSER/LYRICIST 
                                   STEPHEN SONDHEIM
            No, Nathan.  I'm not writing a song for you about your dead
            wife; there aren't any stars to remind you of her.  You're
            underground.  Come up with another song idea for me to write.


                                   NATHAN LANE
            Uh... Hey Roger Bart, you know, the LACK of stars remind me
            of my dead wife, Ariadne.  I think I'll sing about her.


                                   COMPOSER/LYRICIST 
                                   STEPHEN SONDHEIM
                          (sighs)
            Fine, I'll write you the damn song.


                                   As the boat turns around, Nathan Lane
                                   keeps rotating to face the audience as
                                   he sings, which looks really silly. 
                                   Meanwhile he sings about his wife for
                                   no apparent reason.  


                                   AUDIENCE
            Wait, I'm confused.  Why is he singing about a dead wife? 
            Isn't Nathan Lane gay?  I don't get it.


                                   NATHAN LANE
            Well Roger, sorry for going on tangent in a song and boring
            you while doing it.
                          (mugs)
            See, I can't master the musical theatre form, so I can at
            least make fun of it!


                                   Suddenly, the chorus comes on stage
                                   dressed like 1980's-flourescent frogs.


                                   NATHAN LANE
            Oh no, frogs!  They want to turn me into one of them!


                                   ROGER BART
            Nope, guess I was wrong about the frogs thing making sense
            later.


                                   DIRECTOR/CHOREOGRAPHER 
                                   SUSAN STROMAN
            Stroman Dancers!  Begin the obligatory Susan Stroman dance
            number with Susan Stroman props, Susan Stroman tumbles, and
            Susan Stroman flips!


                                   Endlessly, the Frogs sing and dance and
                                   show off their costumes.


                                   COSTUME DESIGNER 
                                   WILLIAM IVEY LONG
            Who cares if the Frogs are entirely irrelevant in the play;
            look how colorful I get to make these absurd costumes!


                                   The frogs pull out bungee chords and
                                   begin jumping with them.  Then, for no
                                   apparent reason, they put Nathan Lane
                                   onto a bungee chord and make him bungee
                                   too.


                                   NATHAN LANE
            Whoa, lookame!  I'm Nathan Lane, and I'm bungee-ing!


                                   The next five minutes are filled with
                                   embarrassing "Nathan Lane is flying"
                                   and "Nathan Lane is hopping" segments. 
                                   Finally, Nathan Lane is eaten whole by
                                   a giant frog.


                                   ROGER BART
            Oh no, what'll I do?


                                   BLACKOUT.






            SCENE: INTERMISSION.


                                   CHILD IN AUDIENCE
            Mommy, why is half the musical done and nothing has happened
            yet?


                                   MOTHER IN AUDIENCE
            Good question, dear.


                                   CHILD IN AUDIENCE
            And are we really supposed to believe that Nathan Lane is
            actually Dionysus, the Greek God of Drama and Wine?  `Cause
            it's just Nathan Lane in a toga and we all know it.


                                   MOTHER IN AUDIENCE
            Yes, yes we do.


                                   CHILD IN AUDIENCE
            And are we really supposed to be emotionally involved in his
            journey to Hades as he tries to bring a great author back to
            the mortal world to warn humanity of its self-destructive
            ways?  Maybe we should leave and go see "The Producers"
            again.


                                   MOTHER IN AUDIENCE
            Okay, Mel Brooks.  That's the last time you get to play the
            part of "Child in Audience".


                                   CHILD IN AUDIENCE
            But it's good to be the king.


                                   MOTHER IN AUDIENCE
            Shh.






            SCENE: SECOND ACT OF PLAY.


                                   ROGER BART
            What will I do, what will I do?  Nathan Lane was eaten by a
            large frog!  Wait, I know!  Now I'll go save him, and the
            plot is going to get somewhat more interesting for once!  All
            I need is--


                                   NATHAN LANE
                          (climbing up from trap door)
            I'm fine.  I escaped the frogs during intermission.  No need
            to go into a subplot about rescuing me.


                                   ROGER BART
            Well crap, there goes Act Two.


                                   NATHAN LANE
            I was attacked by these frogs, who I condemn for being a
            genial bunch who sing, dance, and lie about while not making
            an attempt to change things.  These frogs, they were singing
            and dancing!  AAAAGH!


                                   MEL BROOKS
            Nathan, you're doing the "making fun of the musical theatre
            form because you can't master the form" thing again.


                                   NATHAN LANE
            Shut up, Mel.






            SCENE: THE GATE OF HADES.


                                   Beautiful people in white walk by.


                                   NATHAN LANE
            Who are you?


                                   PEOPLE IN WHITE
            We're the Dyonysians!  We pray to the god Dionysus and
            generally just sing, dance, and lie about all day!


                                   NATHAN LANE
                          (to Roger Bart)
            Hear that?  They pray to me, Dionysus!  How fabulous these
            lazy people are.


                                   ROGER BART
            Nathan, didn't you just condemn the frogs for being the exact
            same thi--


                                   NATHAN LANE
            Boy, I sure hope they continue to think that I'm Herakles,
            and not Dionysus in a costume!


                                   The Dionysians sing and dance boringly,
                                   never once suspecting him being
                                   Dionysus in a Herakles costume.  This
                                   once again kills what could have been
                                   yet another very funny subplot.






            SCENE: HOUSE OF PLUTO.


                                   Pluto enters, with a giant marquee and
                                   showgirls.  He proceeds to sing what is
                                   essentially a horrible ripoff of
                                   "King Herod's Song" from "Jesus 
                                   Christ Superstar".


                                   NATHAN LANE
            Wow, Hell isn't really all that bad!


                                   PLUTO
                          (fumbling in his pockets)
            Where are the dang new lines you wrote me Nathan...
                          (pulls out index cards)
            Oh right, here they are:
            "Hades was never a bad place.  That was the Christians' idea,
            that Hell is terrible.  The Greeks never thought Hades was a
            bad place, but rather an excellent post-existence."


                                   ROGER BART
                          (to Nathan Lane)
            Did you DO research?  What about Tantalus, who spent eternity
            in Hell, thirsty yet unable to drink?  Or Sisyphys, who had
            to eternally roll a rock up a hill?  Or Tityos, who was
            gnawed at by vultures for--


                                   NATHAN LANE
            Shh.  Listen Pluto, I have come by to bring Shaw back to
            earth.


                                   PLUTO
            Why?


                                   NATHAN LANE
            Well you see, our government...


                                   Nathan lane puts on a "Bush Sucks" T
                                   shirt and stands on a soapbox,
                                   preaching about the "Athenian"
                                   government without attempting a single
                                   joke.


                                   ARISTOPHANES
                          (in grave)
            You know, when I made fun of political leaders in my time, it
            was at least FUNNY.


                                   NATHAN LANE (CONT'D)
            ...and my property tax went up, and I don't like that either!


                                   Chorus comes out, and acts like a
                                   "Greek Chorus" for the second and last
                                   time in the play, therefore killing the
                                   possibility of the Greek Chorus concept
                                   being used in something known as
                                   "consistency".






            SCENE: OUTSIDE OF HADES' DINING HALL.


                                   Nathan Lane enters, singing about how
                                   he found Shaw to the tune of My Fair
                                   Lady's "You Did It".  Unfortunately,
                                   this is nowhere near as funny as it
                                   could have been.


                                   Shaw says various famous quotes that
                                   nobody in the audience recognizes.


                                   SHAW
            Yes I will go to the living world with you, Nathan Lane.  By
            the way, I hate Shakespeare.


                                   Conveniently, Shakespeare walks by.


                                   SHAKESPEARE
            Well I hate you!


                                   BOAT FERRYMAN
                          (arriving)
            Nathan Lane, I'm ready to bring you back to earth!  And by
            the way, even though you aren't dressed up like Herakles
            anymore, I'll entirely ignore the fact that I wouldn't
            recognize you!  But you have fifteen minutes.


                                   NATHAN LANE
            That's good, I promised the audience at least fifteen more
            minutes of play after I cut this show down by 45 minutes
            during previews.


                                   CHRIS KATTAN
                          (slaps own ass)
            Damn right!


                                   NATHAN LANE
            Shakespeare, Shaw, you guys will get into a tacked-on verbal
            argument where I'll say a topic and you'll both quote from
            your own works about it.  It'll be fun!


                                   It won't.


                                   NATHAN LANE
            First topic, marriage.  Shaw, you begin.


                                   Shaw begins quoting from him plays, and
                                   Shakespeare from his, back and forth.


                                   This bores the audience to tears
                                   because in the context of a Nathan Lane
                                   pot-and-fart-joke comedy, the more
                                   intellectual languages of Shaw and
                                   Shakespeare is jarring, especially out
                                   of context.


                                   AUDIENCE
            I have no idea what either of these two are saying.


                                   DEAD WIFE
                          (enters)
            Oh Nathan Lane, it's me!


                                   NATHAN LANE
            Dead wife, it is you!  I am having trouble coming up with the
            last topic for them to argue about.


                                   DEAD WIFE
            It's staring you right in the face.


                                   NATHAN LANE
                          (looks at Dead Wife)
            You're right.
                          (goes back to match)
            The final topic is: Death.


                                   DEAD WIFE
            You stare at me and you think death?  How about beauty, or
            love, or maybe even the cleavage that I and every other girl
            in this show have had lifted and separated so wonderfully. 
            Death?  Next time you visit the underworld, why don't you
            consider actually coming to visit me while you're here!  
            You asshole.  


                                   She leaves.


                                   SHAW
            Okay, my turn first.


                                   Shaw delivers some more out-of-context
                                   quotes, but does it beautifully.


                                   Of course, we still have no idea what
                                   he's talking about, but we can tell he
                                   does it beautifully because his voice
                                   gets softer.


                                   SHAKESPEARE
            Okay, my turn.


                                   Shakespeare does the same as Shaw, but
                                   sings it instead.


                                   NATHAN LANE
            Well you win, Shakespeare.


                                   SHAW
            How did HE win?


                                   NATHAN LANE
            Well, because he sung it.  And I thought it was nice to have
            at least *one* song during Act Two that actually moved the
            plot along.  Let's go, Shakespeare.






            SCENE: BACK IN "ATHENS", WHICH STUPIDLY HAS A STATUE OF
            LIBERTY IN THE SCENERY.


                                   NATHAN LANE
            So how do we end this comedy, Shakespeare?  I know.  How
            about I sing a song asking the audience to stand up and take
            action for what they believe in.


                                   SHAKESPEARE
            No, Nathan Lane.  You end a comedy with a final laugh.  For
            example, maybe if I was going to come back to earth to write
            again, you have an idea where Shakespeare is writing new
            plays about the Bush Administration.  That would have been
            political *and* funny.


                                   NATHAN LANE
            Wha?  Political *and* funny?


                                   SHAKESPEARE
                          (shakes head)
            Nathan Lane, you get an F in Playwriting.


                                   Shakespeare walks off.  


                                   GUY IN AUDIENCE.
            Yeah Nathan Lane, you get an F in Playwriting.


                                   NATHAN LANE
            I said shut up, Mel Brooks.


                                   Nathan Lane composes an apology
                                   letter to Stephen Sondheim.

                                   FADE TO BLACK.

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