In this “feel good” original new musical from the skewered mind of Douglas Carter Beane whose brand of humor is an acquired taste and Lewis Flinn who has supplied “High School Musical” hip hop rap type music and lyrics we get an updated retelling of the tale of “Lysistrata” by Aristophanes circa 411 B.C. – that all time great Greek writer – who came up with the satiric anti war plot of “no nookie until we get what we want!”
Only here we have a modern day Lysistrata Jones (a perky and energetic Patti Murin with her golden locks and golden voice and Jane Fonda workout body), a transfer student who rallies her fellow cheerleaders to stop “Giving It Up” to their loser boyfriends who comprise the apathetic basketball team – 33 years without a win – of Athens University.
With an Olympic style opening, our narrator and muse to Lissy J – the buxom (of basketball sized proportions) Hetaira (Liz Mikel whose booming voice threatens to blow the fuses on the awful sound system by Tony Meola) starts us off on this often repetitive journey that only begins to take hold in Act II where love permeates the air instead of sweat and testosterone.
While many of the jokes are sophomoric and fall flat with references to Newt Gingrich, Amelia Earhart, sexting, texting and i-phones the energy level and talent of the entire cast and a brilliant Bacchanal finale “Give It Up” will win you over and have you leaving the theatre in a much better mood than when you were fidgeting in your cramped seat at the Walter Kerr Theatre during the first act.
Captain of the team Mick (Josh Segarra) a buff, sexy song and dance guy more interested in partying and playing around than winning is not the brightest bulb on stage (that distinction goes to the equally bad lighting design of Michael Gottlieb) but his inner poet is brought forth by Robin (a fantastic Lindsay Nicole Chambers – the librarian – a cross between Orphan Annie and Kathy Griffin whose dexterity amazes.
A computer geek who becomes team Mascot – Xander (an appealing and endearing Jason Tam) taps into a real character and has one of the finest numbers in the show – “Hold On” – one of the many message songs played by the on stage overhead balcony band.
After the initial sex strike announcement, we get the battle of the sexes limping along on and off court. The guys eventually braving and manning it up enough to venture forth to the Eros Motor Lodge where instead of finding anonymous sex they start to discover who they are really in love with – with startling results.
The best part of the production is the crotch grabbing, Harlem Globetrotters inspired, acrobatic choreography of Dan Knechtges who as director has also kept this young, spirited and exuberant cast on its toes completely winning us over at games end.
www.lysistratajones.com Photo: Joan Marcus
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