I’d heard a lot about the Transport Group’s production of a new musical called Lysistrata Jones over the past year and was able to check it out six months ago when they were performing in a unique space - the basement of the Judson Church alongside Washington Square Park. It was pop-y music, a unique setting (which was probably most of the allure), and an humorous topic (I’m also a fan of the original text - Lysistrata). Did I think it was a good idea to move it to a 1000+ seat Broadway house? No. Absolutely not. It’d get completely lost and the best part about it was that it was set in an actual gym (okay, so it didn’t make for the most comfortable seats, but whatever).
I had tickets to last Saturday night’s performance and tried to clear my head of all preconceived notions about why Lyssie shouldn’t actually be uptown.
They didn’t change very much from the off-Broadway incarnation except for adding cheesy jokes about Lindsay Nicole Chambers looking like Kathy Griffin (she kind of does), Newt Gingrinch (what?), and an iPhone app. The music is still pop-y and and the show is a burst of energy. We just had no idea why they had so much energy, or what they were singing about, some of the time. The choreography is my favorite aspect of Lyssie, and, of course, Jason Tam, who once again stole my heart and made me want to give him my number after the show (no, I didn’t actually do that).
Patti Murin, as our protagonist, is a great fit for the role except she’s not that strong of a belter and the score requires that of the character. One of the reviews said her performance is reminiscent of Reese Witherspoon in Legally Blonde or Alicia Silverstone in Clueless and it’s 100% true. Lindsay Nicole Chambers as the geeky intellectual Robin is the one who plants the idea of withholding sex from the basketball team to Lyssie, and is also another one of my favorites. She’s hysterical and quite talented. The company members I didn’t like were almost every single one of the basketball team members. I don’t remember disliking them off-Broadway but now they just annoyed me - or maybe it was their characters (the archetypes of jocks, thugs, and every other obnoxious guy you’d find in college was represented onstage). But boy, oh boy, could they certainly dance up a storm. The other thing that bothered me about Lyssie were the cheap, cheesy jokes. They came one after another - it felt overwritten to grab the laughs where ever they could.
Lysistrata Jones' average ticket price last week was $19.19. Ouch. I don't think I've ever seen a ticket price so low and depressing. On Tuesday the critics surprised everyone (or maybe just me) and praised Lyssie for what it is - a bright, energetic, bubble gum infused pop-y show that might not be an intellectual night at the theatre, but it sure is fun.