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Lysistrata Jones

This delightful musical about college basketball and a sex strike is even more zestful on Broadway than it was downtown. logo
Josh Segarra and Patti Murin in Lysistrata Jones
(© Joan Marcus)
Anyone who worried that the charms of the delightful musical Lysistrata Jones, now playing at Broadway's Walter Kerr Theatre, might be diminished by its new, more capacious venue, can rest assured that the production -- directed and choreographed by Dan Knechtges -- is even more zestful in its new home.

For instance, scenic designer Allen Moyer has abetted the musical's smooth move from downtown's Judson Gym, recreating the basketball court milieu, and has added some eye-popping touches that help make the show feel right at home on the Broadway stage. Similarly, costume designers David C. Woolard and Thomas Charles LeGalley have stepped up their game in all of the right places.

In addition to changes in the look of the musical, there have been some gentle (and clever) tweaks to Douglas Carter Beane's daffy and intelligent update of Aristophanes' Lysistrata, about the sex strike the Athenian women of ancient Greece staged to stop the Peloponnesian War.

The musical centers on what happens after the school's cheerleaders, led by Lyssie J. (the sparklingly intelligent and spunky Patti Murin), announce they won't "give it up" until the basketball team breaks a 33-year losing streak. She's aided in her crusade by Beane's shrewdly crafted muse (and the show's narrator), Hetaira (Liz Mikel, whose powerhouse presence and vocals seem designed for Broadway).

Also at Lyssie's side are Myrrhine (imbued with sexy smarts by LaQuet Sharnell), an African-American in love with a Caucasian boy (played amusingly by Alex Wyse) who has comically adopted cliché ghetto vernacular, as well as spitfire Cleonice (Kat Nejat), and the sweetly dim Lampito (Katie Boren).

Lyssie's most unlikely ally is Robin (the consistently hysterical Lindsay Nicole Chambers), the angry poetry slamming work-study librarian, who, like nerdy blogger Xander (an endearing and immensely graceful Jason Tam), ends up spurring her on, even as she ultimately complicates Lyssie's romance with team captain Mick (played charismatically by Josh Segarra).

The leads -- particularly Murin and Tam -- continue to register a chemistry that simultaneously sizzles and plucks heartstrings, even as they evince gales of laughter, hitting Beane's one-liners with aplomb. Similarly, Lewis Flinn's eclectic score, a mix of volcanic R&B and funk numbers, smooth pop ballads, and even some rap and contemporary Latin, remains one of the most tuneful and humorous around.

Knechtges keeps the action flowing briskly and his dances, which incorporate elements of street dance, old-time Broadway razzle-dazzle and some nifty basketball moves, continue to astonish.


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