What Rhymes With "Dribble"? Lysistrata Jones Musical Plays NYC Basketball Court Starting May 15
By Kenneth Jones
Lysistrata Jones, the new Douglas Carter Beane-Lewis Flinn musical that rips a page out of Aristophanes' ancient comedy about women withholding sex in protest of war, bounds onto a Greenwich Village basketball court May 15 for its New York City premiere.
Presented by Transport Group Theatre Company, the musical first surfaced under the title Give It Up! in 2010 at Dallas Theater Center (it was a box-office hit there).
Librettist Douglas Carter Beane and composer-lyricist Lewis Flinn's show now has a fresh title referencing the Greek source material (circa 411 BC), fresh rewrites and some fresh performers. Lysistrata Jones plays on the basketball court of the Judson Memorial Church Gymnasium at 243 Thompson Street at Washington Square South. Opening night is June 5.
Patti Murin (Emma) plays the title role, as she did in Dallas. Dan Knechtges (Xanadu, …Spelling Bee) directs and choreographs, as he did in Dallas. Here's how TG bills the Off-Broadway musical: "The Athens University basketball team hasn't won a game in 30 years. But when spunky transfer student Lysistrata Jones dares the squad's fed-up girlfriends to stop 'giving it up' to their boyfriends until they win a game, their legendary losing streak could be coming to an end."
Beane is a recent 2011 Tony Award nominee for the book to Sister Act. He also penned As Bees in Honey Drown, The Little Dog Laughed and Xanadu, among other works. Flinn contributed songs or scores to New York City productions of The Divine Sister Show People, The Little Dog Laughed, Privilege, The Busy World Is Hushed, Old Money, Music From a Sparkling Planet and more.
Beane told Playbill.com on May 13, "The show has had a huge set of rewrites since last year's Dallas production, making it better, sharper — sadder and funnier — which is always my dream. I'm sorry but the raves down there just weren't enough for me! Having it in a gym in Greenwich Village has given the show an edge and intimacy that excites us all."
Beane added, "I think what this experience has taught me is: that no matter how important the writing is in a show — oh, and it is! — there are other things that weigh in on a production in astonishing ways. Things like the performance space and different performers. I ended up putting in a new ending because of all of it."
The cast of Lysistrata Jones includes Alexander Aguilar (Uardo), Katie Boren (Lampito Kanagawa), Lindsay Chambers (Robin/Shelley), Max Kumangai (Tyllus), Liz Mikel (Heterai), Kat Nejat (Cleonice), Josh Segarra (Mick), LaQuet Sharnell (Mhyrinne), Jason Tam (Xander), Teddy Toye (Harold) and Alex Wyse (Cinesius).
Beane and Flinn said in an earlier statement, "It's an honor to have our new musical produced by Transport Group, a company that has made its name presenting exciting new musical theatrer work, and to be at Judson Memorial Church, which has a long history of progressive politics and fighting the status quo."
Knechtges' Broadway credits include Xanadu (directed by Chris Ashley, Tony nomination, Drama Desk nomination), Sondheim on Sondheim (directed by James Lapine), 110 in The Shade (starring Audra McDonald) and The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee (directed by James Lapine.) He also choreographed the Off-Broadway incarnation of …Spelling Bee at Second Stage, which earned him a Lucille Lortel Award nomination.
The production team includes set designer Allen Moyer; costume designers David C. Woolard and Thomas LeGalley; lighting designer Michael Gottlieb; and sound designer Tony Meola. The music director is Brad Simmons; production stage manager is Wendy Patten.
Lysistrata Jones will play through June 19. The performance schedule is Tuesday through Friday, and Sunday at 8 PM. The Saturday performance schedule is as follows: Saturday, May 21 at 2 PM and 7 PM; Saturday, May 28 at 2 PM; Saturday, June 4 and 18 at 4 PM and 9 PM; Saturday, June 11 at 8 PM. There is no performance June 14.
Tickets are $48-$60 and may be purchased by visiting www.transportgroup.org or by phoning (866) 811-4111.
Transport Group's production of Lysistrata Jones "launches the renovation of Judson Gymnasium into a new theater space that will create even more opportunities for artists to develop and perform their work for years to come," according to a statement. "Judson Memorial Church has long been associated with the arts. Since the 1960s Judson Church has been known as a venue for avant-garde arts and a champion of First Amendment rights in the face of attempts to censor artists and their work. The arts at Judson thrive today, as Judson makes its facilities available to diverse styles of artists in dance, theatre, music, and visual arts from all corners of New York and beyond."
For more information, visit www.judson.org.
Founded in 2001, Transport Group (under the leadership of Jack Cummings III, artistic director, and Lori Fineman, executive director) is the not-for-profit theatre company that develops and produces work by American playwrights and composers with the aim of "exploring the American consciousness in the 20th and 21st centuries." It recently staged revivals of The Boys in the Band and Hello Again. TG won a special 2007 Drama Desk Award for its "breadth of vision and its presentation of challenging productions."
For more information, visit www.transportgroup.org.
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