The age-old Aristophanes story of women withholding sex to end a war -- the classic, Lysistrata -- gets a 20th-century update Jan. 7-31, 1999 when Lyz! is staged by Rakka-Thamm! at the Samuel Beckett Theatre. The Equity showcase of the musical by Joe Lauinger (book and lyrics) and Jim Cowdery (music) features Jill Paxton as the title character, who enlists her women friends to form a "political action group" to stop "the war being fought on the streets of New York, from Harlem to Wall Street, Scarsdale vs. Mount Vernon -- the haves against the have nots," according to Lauinger's production notes. Official opening is Jan. 10, 1999 after previews.
Cowdery's musical styles range from Motown to salsa to Beach Boys to Stephen Foster.
The company includes Kymberly Harris, Andrea Johnson, Myrna Lynn Gomila, Jenna Zablocki, Jason Brown (representing a gay man who also goes on a sex strike), Melissa Minyard, Bruce Sabath (as the Mayor), Nathan Flower, Rod Harris, Paul Aguirre, Scott Thomson (as a souvlaki vendor), Ricky Cortez, Thomas Cunningham, Kris Kane, Nanci Moy, Chris Roberts and Amy Speace.
Lyz! came about after director John Rue, literary manager for Expanded Arts and former literary manager of Gorilla Rep, approached Lauinger, a playwright and professor of dramatic literature at Sarah Lawrence College, about translating the original for a modern audience. After translating and contemporizing it, Lauinger became convinced it should be a modern musical.
Lighting designer is Chris Gorzelnik, with phallus-punctuated settings by artist Emily Gaunt. Rakka-Thamm! artistic director is Lorraine Stobbe.
Tickets are $12. The Beckett is at 410 W. 42nd St. in Manhattan. Call (212) 353-7832.
-- By Kenneth Jones