Sunday, November 13, 2011

Review: Lyssie J is a Slam Dunk

Sex has always been the center of humanity. From Ancient Greece to modern day, it’s all about sex. And it’s no different in the modern rock musical adaptation of Aristophane’s Lysistrata. Loosely following the classic story, Lysistrata Jones tells the story of head cheerleader Lysistata Jones as she leads her squad on a sex strike until their boyfriends, members of the basketball team, win a game. The campy, tongue-in check musical, with a stellar book Douglas Carter Beane and infectious music by Lewis Flinn, the musical throws in modern references mixed in with throwbacks to the classic text.
The beauty and fun of this musical is it knows exactly what it wants to be. Like another Ancient Greece inspired musical the team collaborated on (Xanadu anyone?), Beane, Flinn, and director Dan Knechtges take comedy and actually make it funny. With help of course by one of the most solid ensembles on stage. Lead by the magnificent Patti Murin, the entire Lysistrata Jones cast rocks. Rarely is there a weak link on stage. Even the supporting characters are fleshed out and have their moments to steal the show. Superstars Alex Wyse and LaQuet Sharnell have a wonderful act two duet that probably got some of the loudest applause of the night. And then of course there’s Liz Mikel who has no shame on stage, and boy did it pay off! Sure there are contrived plot moments, but it’s forgiven because of the style of show Lysistrata is. One of the shining moments comes in the choreography. Knechtges does a fabulous job mixing dance with basketball. Sure High School Musical has the throwback dancing basketball scene that has informed the new generation of tween, but I assure you this is no HSM. All the actors look like they’ve been in basketball training for years. If the NBA strikes, put these kids on the court!
I saw the first Broadway preview. Changes are inevitable. But I assure you this is a hit. I look forward to seeing it again. I was giddy from top to bottom. Lysistrata Jones is the slam dunk sleeper of the season.