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Adagio Teas
   Features  >  NY Theater Reviews

 
LYSISTRATA JONES
at Walter Kerr Theatre

LOOKING TO SCORE
By MATT WINDMAN

  Ato Blankson-Wood, Alex Wyse, Teddy Toye, Alexander Aguilar and Josh Segarra/ Ph: Joan Marcus

Not every Off-Broadway musical that scores halfway decent reviews ought to transfer to Broadway. Lysistrata Jones, an unlikely and extremely campy combination of the ancient Greek comedy Lysistrata with horny college basketball players and hot cheerleaders, is such a case.

In Aristophanes’ Lysistrata, which received renewed attention from around the world when the Iraq War began for its anti-war rhetoric, the title character convinces her fellow females to stop having sex with their husbands until they agree to put an end to battle.

In Lysistrata Jones, which sports generic pop songs by Lewis Finn and dialogue by humorist playwright Douglas Carter Beane, the title character is a transfer student at contemporary Athens University, where the male basketball team hasn’t won a game in ages.

After reading the plot summary of Lysistrata on the Internet, she convinces her gal pals to stop having sex with their boyfriends until they can finally win a game. The guys, who could care less about winning, decide to visit a whorehouse to fulfill their sexual needs.

What made the Off-Broadway production so unique was the fact that the show, which is set around a gym, was staged in a basement gym at Judson Memorial Church. Although that setting has been reproduced in gritty detail on a proscenium stage, much of the fun is now gone.

But more importantly, although the show contains an abundance of self-referential humor and the youthful spirit of Glee and High School Musical, it is now harder to mask the insubstantial nature of the show’s generic content and uninteresting characters.

Quite frankly, it’s hard to believe that Lysistrata would care so much about winning a single basketball game merely for the sake of winning something.  And while Liz Mikel has a commanding presence, why is she needed as a narrator?

However, there’s no denying that the young cast, which performs much elaborate and athletic choreography (often involving basketballs), works extraordinarily hard. In the title role, the extraordinarily hot Patti Murin delivers a fierce performance that also captures her character’s vulnerability. Alex Wyse is terrifically funny as a white Jewish male trying to act as if he is from the ghetto. And Jason Tam stands out as a political blogger who unexpectedly becomes the team’s new mascot. 

 


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