Twenty Questions: Director-Choreographer Susan Stroman Spoke to American Theatre as She Worked in a Studio on the New Arrangements for the Stephen Sondheim-Burt Shevelove Musical the Frogs, "Even More Freely" Adapted by Nathan Lane, at Lincoln Center Theater
If your house was burning and you could rescue only three things, what would they be?
I would probably grab pictures of my parents. My purse. And the frog, I guess.
A stuffed-toy or a plastic bathtub frog?
He's a real frog. William Ivey Long gave me a little frog when I started pre-production. He started as Terry the tadpole, but now he's Terry the frog. (Laughs) I fed him this morning.
Wasn't the original Frogs only 40 minutes?
Yes. This is a full-length musical, with an intermission. Nathan actually approached me about this, and I said, "Well, I would only want to be involved in it if Sondheim was willing to roll up his sleeves." Sondheim wrote six new songs, and Nathan has given it a whole new book.
The 1974 Yale School of Drama production took place in a university swimming pool. So your show will have singing, acting, dancing--and swimming, right?
(Laughs) This time we do swimming through lighting. We're dependent on our lighting designer to make it look like there's water everywhere.
Sondheim and Shevelove updated the Aristophanes play with a debate between Shakespeare and G.B. Shaw. Who do you think is the greater artist?
In doing my research, I'm enjoying every quote that comes from Shaw. But I think I will always be attracted to the poet.
What do you always have with you when you rehearse?
Purel and Altoids. (Laughs) And a red pen for my script.
You wear a baseball cap in rehearsals? Is it always the case?
The baseball cap comes out of keeping the hair out off my face when I dance and keeping the fluorescent lights out of my eyes. I'm always at the studio for 10-hour days. Also, I can tilt my head down and hide my eyes a little bit while I think through a problem. …