The Internet Theater Magazine of Reviews, Features, Annotated Listings







Etcetera and
Short Term Listings


NYC Restaurants


New Jersey







Free Updates
A CurtainUp Review
Lysistrata Jones

Lysistrata Jones's Sex Strike Dribbles to Broadway By Elyse Sommer
"No more givin' it up
Till you give up givin' it up."— the pom pom waving cheerleaders telling their under-achieving boyfriends that there'll be no more sex until they score a winning game, or as Hetaira puts it innitiating "a sex jihad!"
Patti Murin
. Can a show that gained much of its charm to its being performed in a made-in-heaven location — an actual college gym transformed into an arts space — move into a traditional Broadway theater without losing its mojo? I certainly can't fault Gregory Wilson for wondering if this campy take on Aristophanes' classic Greek tale of female political activism had enough going for it without that very apt environmental staging. Now that I've seen the show in its Broadway home, I'm sad to report that Gregory's concern was justified.

Not that Allen Moyer's scenery doesn't fit the Walter Kerr's wide stage quite well, with the band smartly positioned upstage on a raised balcony filling. In other words, the entire show is intact (with just one cast change and some minor tinkering by book writer Douglas Carter Beane (e.g. additional referential jokes by the quip loving Beane). So, if you loved it downtown, it looks as if it doesn't look too out of place in more conventonal, high stakes surroundings — except for a major missing ingredient: The audience no longer straddles the stage and so the feeling of really being part of it all is gone. And so is that just right, impromptu aura and the naughty, camp High School Musical feel.

Unfortunately, the move uptown has turned these losses into a case of overreaching. Watching Lys Jones and her pals trying to nudge their under-ambitious boyfriends into scoring a win for the Athens College basketball team, is still light-hearted and purposefully silly fun, especially when they're dancing. But while these are times when we could all use some diversion from the troubled reality of the world we live in, this material is just too slight and limited in broad audience appeal to warrant the cost of tickets. Somehow, Beane's tinkering has not deepened the characters but merely exacerbated the slightness and cutesiness of the concept. A terrible sound design doesn't help.

The above said, the cast is as hard working and amazingly energetic as ever and you find yourself wishing that they'll keep their jobs for a solid run. Since Gregory Wilson so ably and fairly detailed the show's strengths and weaknesses, I'll let that serve as a continuation and completion of these comments. Just click the following to read that Off-Broadway review

Lysistrata Jones
Book: Douglas Carter Beane
Music and Lyrics: Lewis Flinn
Director and Choreographer: Dan Knechtges
Cast (Ato Blankson-Wood is the only new cast member): Patti Murin (Lysistrata Jones), Liz Mikel (Hetaira), Josh Segarra (Mick), Jason Tam (Xander), and Lindsay Nicole Chambers (Robin) Alexander Aguilar (Uardo), Ato Blankson-Wood (Tyllus), Katie Boren (Lampito), Kat Nejat (Cleonice), LaQuet Sharnell (Myrrhine), Teddy Toye (Harold) and Alex Wyse (Cinesius) Musical Director: Brad Simmons
Set Design: Allen Moyer
Costume Design: David Woolard and Thomas Charles LeGalley
Lighting Design: Michael Gottlieb
Sound Design: Tony Meola
Stage Manager: Losis J. Griffin Running Time: 2 1/2 hours, includes 1 intermission
From 11/12/11; opening 12/14/11.
Monday - Saturday @8pm Wednesday and Saturday @2pm; after 12/19: Tuesday @7pm Wednesday @2 and 7pm, Thursday @7pm, Friday @8pm Saturday @2 and 8pm, Sunday @3pm
Reviewed by Elyse Sommer at 12/16/11 press performance
Highlight one of the responses below and click "copy" or"CTRL+C"
  • I agree with the review of Lysistrata Jones
  • I disagree with the review of Lysistrata Jones
  • The review made me eager to see Lysistrata Jones
Musical Numbers
Act One
    Opening Night Now/All
  • Change the World/Lysistrata & Girls
  • No more Giving It Up!/ Girls
  • Lay Low/Mick & Boys
  • I dDont Think So/Hetaira & Girls
  • Where Am I Now/Lysistrata
Act Two
  • Writing on the Wall/Hetaira & All
  • Hold On/Xander
  • Don't Judge a Book/Myrhinne & Cinestus
  • Right Now Operetta/All
  • When She Smiles/Mick
  • Give It Up@/All
Off-Broadway review
Lysistrata Jones By Gregory A. Wilson
I have been reading the Sparknotes of Aristophanes. Unabridged!.—-Lysistrata Jones
For sheer synergy of story and place, you're not going to get much better than a musical about basketball staged in a gym. Really.

The Judson Memorial Church Gymnasium, in the process of being transformed into a full-fledged arts space, is the venue for the off-Broadway (by way of Dallas) production of Lysistrata Jones, a wild adaptation of Aristophanes' famous comedy Lysistrata. The inspired environment contributes a tremendous amount of energy to an already up-tempo piece which flies through its two hour performance time. Whether the focus of the piece is helped enough by that energy is another matter.

Lysistrata Jones tells the story of its title character, a transfer student to Athens University trying to fit in better in her new school than she did in her old. But there's trouble brewing for the spunky Lysistrata (played by Patti Murin, who originated the role in the Dallas Theatre Center's production) right from the outset. She's fallen for Mick (Josh Segarra), the captain of the basketball team that hasn't won a game in thirty years (which doesn't seem to faze them), and after she decides she can no longer stand the constant losing, she comes up with an apparently brilliant method of motivation: withhold sex until the team wins a game. Convincing the other girlfriends to go along with this scheme is a fairly simple exercise, but when the team doesn't immediately fold under the pressure, things quickly become more complicated. . .while Lysistrata's plans, and world, begin to fall apart just as quickly.

In its basic premise, this adaptation (the brainchild of Douglas Carter Beane, whose reputation precedes him) is quite faithful to Aristophanes' initial concept. But where the original Lysistrata gained a great deal of its satirical force from its subversion of the traditional gender roles of the time, to say nothing of its attacks on the military / male mindset, the modern Lysistrata Jones seems curiously dated by comparison. Even the music, written by Lewis Flinn, suggests a kind of late 70s feel, though references to modern events and activities like blogging using MacBooks are obviously trying to ground the musical in the present.

Maybe it's less that it feels out of date and more that it feels out of sync: why Lysistrata is so hell-bent on getting the basketball team to even care about winning is never really explained to any satisfaction beyond some vague musings about wanting to know what it "feels like to win." Indeed, why a cheerleader who only learns about Aristophanes through a quick perusal of Sparknotes lights on his play's method as the way to change the fortunes of her college team in the first place-or why anyone, from the poetry slam devotee Robin (played memorably by Lindsay Nicole Chambers) to the progressive blogger Xander (Jason Tam) to the motley crew of the team's significant others who get on board, is so convinced by her approach-is never clear either.

Of course, this may be asking for more than the musical ever intends to offer. But as Beane writes it and Dan Knechtges directs it, Lysistrata Jones doesn't seem to be intended as lighthearted schlock either. There's a thread of poetry and passion woven throughout the production which seems to be pointing towards deeper levels of engagement, even while a character like Cinesius (Alex Wyse) pretends to be a straight from the street, "sideways baseball cap wearing" hip-hop champion who is actually an English major named after Theodore Dreiser. Mick, as it turns out, isn't all dumb jock either, but how he operates given that supposed other self is frustratingly incoherent. It's as if the ambition of the musical constantly reaches for something its foundation can't support, Gilbert and Sullivan trying to be a mix of Verdi and Shakespeare.

Despite my reservations I wouldn't call Lysistrata Jones a failure, because both Knechtges's direction and the energy of his actors is so heartfelt, often charming. The characters are perfectly cast, with Chambers, Segarra and Murin as standouts. Murin in particular invests Lysistrata with a warm vulnerability that makes her highly appealing, even if, like the plot of the story, her voice isn't always quite up to the challenge posed by her musical numbers. Ensemble pieces are handled professionally and convincingly.

In fact, as the show wore on I found myself, perhaps like Lysistrata's (both original and modern) followers, found when thinking of her, rooting for it to succeed. I don't think that can entirely make up for a story which can't decide if it wants to be lighthearted fun or serious satire, or for a musical score the feel of which can veer alarmingly from A Chorus Line to Glee within the space of a few minutes, but there's a lot to be said for a production with its heart in the right place and the courage of its convictions. . .even if I can't figure out exactly what those convictions are. If you're in an adventurous mood, it might be worth your while to try to figure them out for yourself.

Note: The above review posted during the show's run at the The Gym at Judson, 243 Thompson Street @ Washington Square South where it played from 5/15/11 to 6/24/11 and opened 6/5/11.
Anything Goes Cast Recording Anything Goes Cast Recording
Our review of the show

Book Of Mormon MP4 Book of Mormon -CD
Our review of the show

Slings & Arrows  cover of  new Blu-Ray cover
Slings & Arrows-the complete set

You don't have to be a Shakespeare aficionado to love all 21 episodes of this hilarious and moving Canadian TV series about a fictional Shakespeare Company


©Copyright 2011, Elyse Sommer.
Information from this site may not be reproduced in print or online without specific permission from