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Theater Review: 'Lysistrata Jones' -- 2.5 stars

Patti Murin

Patti Murin Photo Credit: Patti Murin (Joan Marcus)

Lysistrata Jones
2.5 stars

Not every Off-Broadway musical that scores halfway-decent reviews is meant to transfer to Broadway.

"Lysistrata Jones," an unlikely, extremely campy combination of the ancient Greek comedy "Lysistrata" with horny college basketball players and hot cheerleaders, is such a case.

In Aristophanes' original, the title character convinces her fellow females to stop having sex with their husbands until they agree to put an end to a war.
In "Lysistrata Jones," which sports generic pop songs by Lewis Finn and humorous dialogue by playwright Douglas Carter Beane, the title character is a transfer student at contemporary Athens University, where the male basketball team hasn't won a game in ages.

Inspired by the plot of "Lysistrata," she convinces her gal pals to stop having sex with their boyfriends till the guys can finally win at basketball. The boys, who could care less about winning, declare war on the girls.

What made the Off-Broadway production so refreshing was the fact that it was staged in the basement gym at Judson Memorial Church. Although that setting has been reproduced on a proscenium stage, much of the original fun is now gone.

Although the show emphasizes the same feel-good, youthful spirit that made
"Glee" and "High School Musical" so popular, it is hard to hide its insubstantial content and uninteresting characters.

Frankly, why should Lysistrata care so much about winning a single basketball game merely for the sake of winning something? And while Liz Mikel has a commanding presence, she is out of place in her strange role as a combination narrator, fairy godmother and prostitute.

But there's no denying that the young cast, which performs elaborate and athletic choreography (often involving basketballs), works extraordinarily hard.

In the title role, the gorgeous Patti Murin delivers a fierce performance that also captures her character's vulnerability. Alex Wyse is terrifically funny as a white male trying to act as though he's from the ghetto. Jason Tam also stands out as a political blogger who unexpectedly becomes the team's new mascot.


If you go: "Lysistrata Jones" plays an open run at the Walter Kerr Theatre. 219 W. 48th St., 212-239-6200, lysistratajones.com.

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