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Lysistrata Jones

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Though it was initially titled Give It Up when it was performed in Dallas, Texas in 2010, by the time it arrived in New York in 2011 Douglas Carter Beane’s musical had been re-titled Lysistrata Jones. After playing Off-Broadway for six months, it transferred to Broadway’s Walter Kerr Theatre, where, in spite of favorable reviews, it closed after only a month.

Derived from the Aristophanes’ antediluvian comedy, Lysistrata, where upstart Greek women withhold intimacies from their men as a protest against the long-lasting Peloponnesian War,– Lysistrata Jones is now a musical-comedy. Composed by Lewis Flinn (with lyrics by Beane) it has been updated to modern times.

Now, Anaheim’s Chance Theater is staging Lysistrata Jones in its west coast debut. Under Kari Hayter’s energetic direction, along with Kelly Todd’s calorie-burning choreography and Rod Bagheri’s musical direction (of a four-piece, onstage band), it comes to life in all its comedic sexuality. Beane’s version of this Greek classic places the action on the campus of Athen’s University, where the school’s basketball team has been on a cursed, and seemingly unending, losing streak.

When cheerleader Lysistrata Jones (soprano Devon Hadsell in an endearing and exhaustive portrayal) proposes that the entire cheerleading squad withhold affections from the team players, a gender-based tease-fest and rivalry is set into grinding, thrusting musical motion.

With a dozen committed performers singing and dancing over two-acts, in two-hours and ten-minutes, we witness over two-dozen song and dance routines played out on Christopher Scott Murillo’s basketball court-like scenic design, under Matt Schieicher’s stadium-like lighting motif,  aided by Ryan Brodkin’s pristine sound engineering, and Bradley Lock’s cute collegiate costuming. What’s more, the action moves along like lightning on the court, punctuated with bouncy comedy and titillating sexual innuendo (it’s not a show for children).

Kudos to the players of Lysistrata Jones; each has an abundance of game. The classically-trained Hadsell sets the bar high as Lyssie J (as she is referred to by other characters). Her solo rendition of "Where Am I Now" resonates with human emotion as if it were inspired by an angel of affect.

Still, Camryn Zelinger (she’s one formidable Hetaira, with pipes that blast), J.D. Driskill (Driskill’s nuanced interpretation of "When She Smiles" is winning), Robert Wallace, Ashley Arlene Nelson (Nelson is filled with brashness and chutzpa as Robin), Michael Dashefsky, Darian Archie, Klarissa Mesee, Danielle Rosario, Chelsea Baldree, Ricky Wagner, and Jackson Tobiska all hold their own and then some in this physically demanding production. And though the story is meant to be inspirational – the company sung finale, "Give It Up," underscores the show’s can-do attitude – there are few things more inspirational than a consummate cast of triple-threat talents getting a staging just right. That’s what the Chance has achieved with Lysistrata Jones.

Lysistrata Jones christens the theater’s new, and newly named, space – Chance Theater at the Bette Aitken Theater Arts Center– and continues through March 9. The new venue is located at 5522 East La Palma Avenue, Anaheim. Evening performances are Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. Matinees are Saturdays at 3 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m. For reservations, call (714)777-3033. For online ticketing and further information, visit www.ChanceTheater.com.

 

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“We want to challenge other theaters to prepare for this change by thinking differently in their artistic programming and their audience development strategy,” says EWP Producing Artistic Director, Tim Dang. “In many areas, the change has already happened. The future is here.  2042: See Change is the perfect launch to initiate and innovate new works for the American theatre that include more opportunities for people of color, women, youth and ideas for the next generation of art making.

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Center Theatre Group Announces the 11th Season at the Kirk Douglas

2014-2015 Douglas Season is Jam-Packed with 10 Exciting Events

David Mamet’s Explosive “Race”

The Goodman Theatre’s World Premiere Production of Rebecca Gilman’s “Luna Gale”

A ‘Remix’ of Culture Clash’s Popular “Chavez Ravine”

Todd Almond’s and Matthew Sweet’s Musical Charmer “Girlfriend” and DouglasPlus Presentations –

The World Premiere of “Forever” by Dael Orlandersmith

Lucy Alibar’s Work in Progress “Throw Me on the Burnpile and Light Me Up”

The U.S. Premiere of Gob Squad’s “Western Society”

World Premiere Production of Jessica Blank and Eric Jensen’s “How to be a Rock Critic”

“Facing Our Truth: Ten-Minute Plays on Trayvon, Race and Privilege”

and

CTG’s Los Angeles Company Partnership Presentation of

the 24th Street Theatre’s Special Family Show “Walking the Tightrope”

 

[The New Season Begins July 13, 2014, and Runs Through August 9, 2015.]

Center Theatre Group Artistic Director Michael Ritchie has set the 11th season at the CTG/Kirk Douglas Theatre in Culver City.

In a jam-packed season of exciting work – from widely varied voices and at every level of development – the 2014-2015 season at the Kirk Douglas Theatre will include four powerful mainstage productions, five lively DouglasPlus productions and readings, and a critically acclaimed show for families and people of all ages.

“We start the mainstage season with David Mamet and his tinderbox of a play ‘Race’ and continue with the Goodman Theatre’s world premiere production of Rebecca Gilman’s smart and absorbing ‘Luna Gale,’” said Ritchie. “L.A.’s very own Culture Clash will bring to the Douglas a new version of their popular ‘Chavez Ravine,’ followed by Matt Almond and Matthew Sweet’s charmer of a musical ‘Girlfriend.’”

“DouglasPlus presentations are interwoven through the entire season,” said Ritchie.  “A five-year-old CTG program, DouglasPlus provides us with the flexibility to explore new work and push boundaries. We have developed and presented many  stimulating pieces through DouglasPlus, and that tradition certainly continues with this season.

“Dael Orlandersmith returns to us with the world premiere of her startling show ‘Forever,’ and we welcome the engaging voice of Lucy Alibar with her work in progress ‘Throw Me on the Burnpile and Light Me Up.’ Season ticket holders will have a chance to choose one of these two as part of their subscription.”

“Two other DouglasPlus presentations are subscription bonus options,” said Ritchie, “the U.S. premiere of Gob Squad’s absurdist ‘Western Society’ and the world premiere production of Jessica Blank and Erik Jensen’s passionate ‘How to be a Rock Critic.’

“This July, DouglasPlus gives us a chance to reflect on the Trayvon Martin case and all of its ramifications when we present both “Facing Our Truth: Ten-Minute Plays on Trayvon, Race and Privilege” and the youth summit associated with it.”