Lysistrata Jones; Broadway’s Slam Dunk Musical
In a season of limited new original musicals on Broadway, the sun is shinning bright at Athens University with the new Broadway musical, Lysistrata Jones! Loosely based on the ancient Greek comedy filled with sexual humor, 2,500 years later this modern day interpretation will still have you laughing from beginning to end in a musical that is hands down the most fun on Broadway you will have this season.
Lysistrata Jones is a new musical that features music and lyrics by Lewis Flinn and a book by Douglas Carter Beane. Based loosely after the ancient Greek comedy Lysistrata by Aristophanes, this fun new musical brings to life a modern day take on hilarious sexual humor that never seems to get old. At first upon watching, one may find themselves thinking “Is this really happening?” as basketball players, mac book computers and tons of other modern marvels fill the stage. However, you quickly realize this isn’t some knock off modern take on a classic piece. Lysistrata Jones quickly finds a place in your heart as the story progresses and we learn not only more about a university divided but a girl who doesn’t stand for giving up. And that is where the heart of this story is at.
The score by Lewis Flinn is filled with fantastic music that has the audience bouncing through out the show. Finding a strange mix between Legally Blonde and In the Heights, the music is the biggest surprise of the show considering how well it has been executed. And this pop filled score even finds it time to have true Broadway moments with songs such as “You Go Your Way” and “Where Am I Now” which truly capture the essence of Broadway combined with pop music for the 21st century. I can only hope that an album is produced from this show considering these are not only show tunes one can enjoy during the performance but could enjoy listening to on a radio. I think of this show as a fantastic example of where the 21st century and musical theatre can go when we combine a solid background for a theatre piece and add in a new element to the show not usually combined with Broadway musical theatre.
The show itself is such a good time its almost hard not to enjoy it. Featuring direction and choreography by Dan Knechtges, the musical really brings a small story to life in a larger sort of fashion. It was also interesting to see the aspect of sports on Broadway in a new fashion. While this is nothing new, this take on it was a very new approach and I liked the direction in which is carried. The choreography is outstanding is especially the, what I called, basketball-ography which was the boy playing ball to all choreographed motions. However, the true story of girl power and a girl who begins her own revolution to change the world is still at the heart of this play despite the modern take and that is what really matters.
Patti Murin, who stars as the title character of Lysistrata Jones, is a force to be reckoned with. Being the girl the refuses to let people give up, Murin’s dedication and passion behind her performance is not only what drives the story but the show itself. It is so easy in a modern show like this to be wow-ed and overtaken by everything going on around you. Murin doesn’t let that happening staying strong as the driving force of the show through out the entire story. Liz Mikel, who stars as Hetaira, finds herself in the interesting role of throwing herself in and out of everything taking place. Her character is definitely the ancient Greek representation for the show as she wonders about helping tell the story. She is hilarious as she jokes about the characters and finds the nonsense taking place around her outlandish. She also treats the audience to some impressive back up vocals through out many of the character’s songs.
Lindsay Nicole Chambers stars as Robin in this production and seems to be an audience favorite. As the quirky strange girl from the library, she is hilarious through out the story clearly being the odd one out making her way into a group of fierce girls. But don’t worry, things work out for her best in the end as well she finds some happiness both on and off the court. Josh Segarra stars as Mick in the production as the stereotypical college kid, basketball player and brother from another mother. Winning the audience over by clearly playing the dumb card, his foolish antics and ridiculous rants through out the show are not only silly but just down right absurd as he battles against Lysistrata and the girls refusing to give it up. However, he does have a lighter softer side you get a glimpse at several times. And while this is something nice to see – it is overall still mostly foolish.
Jason Tam, who stars as Xander in the production, is truly the one however though that wins the audience’s heart in the end. Taking the classic story of the underdog, Tam’s character works his way form social outcast to the pride of the school’s basketball team, the Spartans, as their mascot. Clearly forming a chemistry with Lysistrate Jones from the moment they meet, his song “Hold On” that he shares with her in Act 2 was one of my favorite moments of the show hands down.
All of those in supporting roles also deserve mention for their great work and talent showcased through out the show. Something nice about there being no large ensemble to this piece is we get a moment to not only experience each character but each relationship in its own form. This doesn’t take you away from the stories main driving points but enhances it further strengthening an already strong book. The ensemble includes Alexander Aguilar (‘Uardo), Ato Blankson-Wood (Tyllus),Katie Boren (Lampito), Kat Nejat (Cleonice), LaQuet Sharnell (Myrrhine), Teddy Toye (Harold) and Alex Wyse (Cinesius).
The production also scored for me in almost all of the technical aspects. I think the main reason for that would be the technical aspects were put to good use with a worthy book and score. It is so easy for Broadway shows today to simply “Wow” an audience with a light show or other various technical effects. However, Lysistrata Jones combines a good story with even better tech. The lights, designed by Michael Gottlieb, control a lot of the show with scoreboards, LED’s and scene specific lighting that continued to wow me personally even when several effects were used multiple times. When Lysistrata Jones opened downtown earlier this summer, it played in an actual gym and how does the set get any better then that? Featuring a scenic design by Allen Moyer, Lysistrata Jones clearly understand the concept of a small show in a big Broadway house. They minimize the space on stage to their advantage creating a gym downstage with a platform upstage housing the orchestra. This tatic is what makes this smaller show work so well in the space it is in. Also, they use a unit set idea as lockers facing the gym are turned around to reveal a library in one act but a bedroom in another – all smart and effective choices. The sound, design by Tony Meola, also really brings this small production to life on the big Broadway stage as they blast the pop music not placing you but forcing you into this world they have created. It is fantastic. Also, the costumes design by David C. Woolard and Thomas Charles LeGalley are stand out-ish through out the show in all the right ways. Bright orange uniforms for the boys and a little skin baring cheerleader outfits for the girls leaves the audience happy no matter what sex you are. It is a show like this that truly exemplifies to me how you put great technical aspects with a great show to only create a great Broadway experience.
So make your way down to 48th street to the Walter Kerr Theatre and check out one of Broadway’s newest and brightest original shows, Lysistrata Jones! I promise that if you attend this show, you will leave saying you have never had more fun! This show is a highlight for Broadway as it is truly a slam dunk! It is so refreshing to see a new original piece of musical theatre on Broadway that is not only silly, fun and exciting but worth an experience to the theatre! For more information, check out Lysistrata Jone’s Official Broadway Website! Luner on Theatre will continue to bring you Lysistrata Jones news as needed! Thank you also to Playbill.com for the photos used in this article! Of course stick with us here at Luner on Theatre as we bring you not only the theatre news you want but need to know!