Saturday, December 3, 2011

Lysistrata Jones ***

Once again, Douglas Carter Beane has turned to ancient Greece for inspiration, this time for a modern take on Aristophanes, with music and lyrics by Lewis Flinn. In this version, now at the Walter Kerr, the cheerleaders of Athens U decide not to "give it up" to their boyfriends on the basketball team until they snap the team's 30-year losing streak. Excluding the bodacious Hetaira (look it up, folks), the combined body fat of the cast must be near zero. This incredibly talented bunch do wonders in the sensational dance numbers by director/choreographer Dan Knechtges. They dance, they sing, they act, they even shoot a few hoops. Patti Murin shines as the title character. Liz Mikel, Josh Segarra, Jason Tam and Lindsay Nicole Chambers stand out in the uniformly excellent cast of 12. The music is lively, but unmemorable. Allen Moyer's scenic design is a bit too slick for the production: who needs a back wall of annoyingly bright lights shining in the audience's eyes for a few seconds? The costumes by David C. Woodward and Thomas Charles LeGalley are terrific, especially in the final scene. Don't worry too much about the plot -- it's silly but sweet. It could use some judicious trimming in the second act. When the show was given in the gym at Judson Church last summer, it drew enthusiastic reviews, including Critic's Pick from the Times. Whether it's right for Broadway remains to be seen. I personally think it would be more successful in a less lavish production off-Broadway. In any case, I had fun and hope it succeeds. Running time: 2 hours 15 minutes, including intermission.

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