Tuesday, December 6, 2011
Transferring from off-Broadway run downtown, Douglas Carter Beane takes on the Greeks again in this re-telling of the Aristophanes classic. Tongue remains firmly in cheek, much as it did with Xanadu a few years ago.
From one perspective, it's an extended episode of "Glee." But that's slightly dismissive and I did have a great time. Liz Mikel kicks things off as the goddess Hetaira, quickly moving the location from Olympus to Athens University, where the basketball team hasn't won a game in 33 years. Lysistrata Jones (Pati Murin) arrives as a transfer student and starts to stir things up right away, putting together a cheerleading squad to motivate the team.
When the players tell the squad they're not interested in improving, Lys searches for a new plan, coming across the Aristophanes' play for which she was named. Borrowing its plot points for her own devices, Lys has little immediate success. School nerd, Xander (Jason Tam) learns to dance from an app on his smart phone. Adorable team captain Mick (Josh Segarra) delivers what will likely be short-lived jokes about Herman Cain. Women's study major (duck before the subtext knocks you over) Robin (Lindsay Nicole Chambers) makes her own conversion of sorts, too.
Mr. Beane, as usual, plays with gender roles and mixes up the couples with both expected and unexpected pairings, pulling much from pop culture as mentioned above. (By the way, the Athens University team mascot? Yes...the Spartans.) Lewis Flinn's score serves well, moving the story along, though there aren't many memorable songs. Director/choreographer Dan Knechtges keeps the pace moving, borrowing a bit of Bill T. Jones here and there among the basketball exercise drills.
It may not outrun "Chicago," it may not provide the catharsis of "War Horse," but it's lots of fun. There should be plenty of discounts available. Check out Broadwaybox.com and get tickets.