Lysistrata Jones, the Gum-in-Cheek Pop Musical That Borrows From Ancient Greece, Opens on Broadway

By Kenneth Jones
December 14, 2011

Basketball. Cheerleaders. Sex. Show tunes. The stately Walter Kerr Theatre is the home court for all of that in the new Broadway musical comedy Lysistrata Jones, opening Dec. 14 following previews from Nov. 12.



Written by Tony nominee Douglas Carter Beane (Sister Act, The Little Dog Laughed) and Lewis Flinn, and directed and choreographed by Tony nominee Dan Knechtges, Lysistrata Jones is the pop reimagining of the 411 B.C. Greek play Lysistrata, by funnyman Aristophanes, about a sex strike in wartime. The story is now placed in the realm of college basketball, with cheerleaders trying to inspire their team to victory. The plan of blonde, belting Lyssie (played by Patti Murin) is to withhold sex in order to motivate the boys. Or, as the girls sing it, "No More Giving It Up!"

(For parents looking for a content guide, Lysistrata Jones has the feel of a Disney channel movie, except there are side trips to a brothel called the Eros Motor Lodge, where a formidable madame played by Liz Mikel has one of the funniest unveilings you've ever seen. The band led by music director Brad Simmons, in plain view of the audience, above the action, even breaks up during the scene.)

Lysistrata Jones features Murin (Lysistrata Jones), Liz Mikel (Hetaira), Josh Segarra (Mick), Jason Tam (Xander), and Lindsay Nicole Chambers (Robin) with Alexander Aguilar ('Uardo), Ato Blankson-Wood (Tyllus), Katie Boren (Lampito), Kat Nejat (Cleonice), LaQuet Sharnell (Myrrhine), Teddy Toye (Harold) and Alex Wyse (Cinesius), with understudies LaVon Fisher-Wilson, Libby Servais, Charlie Sutton, Barrett Wilbert Weed and Jared Zirilli.

Here's how the producers characterize the show: "The Athens University basketball team hasn't won a game in 30 years. But when spunky transfer student Lysistrata Jones (Patti Murin) 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. In this boisterous new musical comedy, Lyssie J. and her girl-power posse give Aristophanes' classic comedy a sexy, modern twist and take student activism to a whole new level."

Read Playbill.com's feature about the source material — the 411 B.C. play. 

Josh Segarra
photo by Joan Marcus

Librettist Beane is the Tony Award-nominated dramatist of Sister Act, Xanadu and The Little Dog Laughed. Composer-lyricist Flinn contributed to The Divine Sister. Director-choreographer Knechtges' choreography credits include Xanadu (for which he was Tony-nominated), 110 in the Shade, Sondheim on Sondheim and The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee.

Beane told Playbill magazine that the idea for the show started out as a joke. "It was during the height of all the 'American Pie' films," he said. "I was working on another project at the time, and someone said, 'What's next?' I said, not being serious, 'I'm doing a musical of Lysistrata.' Sarcasm is wonderful for success."

"I think basketball and dancing go hand in hand," Knechtges told Playbill. "When we were doing our workshop on the show, it was shocking how easily you could take traditional dance forms and make them into basketball formations."
 

Murin originated the role of Lysistrata Jones at the Dallas Theatre Center (where the show was called Give It Up!) and reprised it Off-Broadway with the Transport Group earlier this year, when the show was staged in a Greenwich Village gymnasium. She appeared in Xanadu on Broadway (Euterpe/Kira u/s), as Emma at the Old Globe Theatre and as The Little Mermaid at the Muny in St. Louis.

The creative team includes set designer Allen Moyer (Tony nominee for Grey Gardens); costume designers David C. Woolard (Tony nominee for The Rocky Horror Show and The Who's Tommy) and Thomas Charles LeGalley; lighting designer Michael Gottlieb; sound designer Tony Meola (Drama Desk winner for The Lion King; Wicked; The Wild Party; Les Miserables); hair designer Mark Adam Rampmeyer; music director Brad Simmons; music coordinator Dean Sharenow; and associate choreographer Jessica Hartman.

Lysistrata Jones is produced by Paula Herold, Alan Wasser, Joseph Smith, Michael McCabe, John Breglio, Takonkiet Viravan/Scenario Thailand, Hilary A. Williams, Broadway Across America, James G. Robinson in association with Tony Meola, Martin McCallum and Marianne Mills.

Tickets for Lysistrata Jones range from $25 to $130, and can also be purchased on Telecharge.com or by calling (800) 432-7250.

For more information, visit www.LysistrataJones.com.