Skip to main content Skip to footer site map

Review: THE TROUBIES' LIZA-STRADA at Getty Villa

Lizastrata With A Zzzzzzzzzz

Review: THE TROUBIES' LIZA-STRADA at Getty Villa

Lizastrata With A Zzzzzzzzzz

During the opening number, the Troubadour Theatre Company, affectionately known to all as the Troubies, comment how thrilled the troupe, and the audience by extension, is to have returned to live theatre. The audience responded with glorious applause, and both the occasion and the Troubies deserve that adulation. The Troubies, who have rocked Los Angeles for the last 25 years, are one of the most creative teams in the city. Their imagination and gumption has entertained with parodies of classical works infused with a musical motif such as Alice In One-Hit Wonderland, Much ADoobie Brothers About Nothing, and A Charlie James Brown Christmas. Their latest, Lizastrata, based on both the Greek Aristophanes comedy Lysistrata and the songs made popular by Liza Minnelli, could have been a dazzler, but with a gossamer plot, too many recycled jokes, and a venue ill-equipped to allow the cast to sing with heft, the latest production is uninspired.

Lizastrata (Cloie Wyatt Taylor) and her girlfriends decide that the Peloponnesian War between Athens and Sparta must end. They use their feminine wiles to entice their soldier hubbies, only for the ladies to abstain from sex to make their husbands sexually frustrated. They figure the men will be desperate to end the war so they can dive into their wives' passions.

The Troubie shows always lean towards burlesque, but the current production - with protruding organs, talking and begging organs, and finally, detonating organs - becomes tiresome and an X-rated panto along the lines of the infamous naked Broadway musical Oh Calcutta! The improvisations feel over-rehearsed and the show is dragged down with obvious political humor. There are quite a few belly laughs but they don't feel earned, they feel cheap and shallow.

Everything just seems sloppy. Even the motif is off-kilter. There's an overreliance on songs from the movie Cabaret which is a shame because Liza Minnelli had lent her extraordinary technique to many songs, like "Bye Bye Blackbird," Sondheim's "Losing My Mind", and Marguerite Monnot's "M'Lord", amongst others, and the show may have been better served with a variety of Liza numbers. Also, the evening includes several songs that Liza hadn't sung. "Willkommen" from Cabaret is a great way to start the evening, but Liza had only a brief cameo in that song. The writers also chose two Chicago songs, which is warranted since Liza subbed for Gwen Verdon in 1975's original production. However, the songs chosen had been sung by Chita Rivera, not Minnelli. If they were picking songs that were in the vicinity of Liza, a more appropriate title for the show may have been Liza-Adjacent-Strata.

Of the cast, the only real standouts are the three veterans: Matt Walker, Rick Batalla, and Beth Kennedy. The first and best penile sketch grants Batalla and Kennedy to show off each's naughty prowess. After that hilarious scene, the erectile visual gags dragged to the ground.

It's difficult to ascertain the strength of everyone's voice since all the actors sang in a more hushed tone, presumably due to a sound ordinance the Palisades neighbors have imposed on the Getty Villa. Everyone sounded like they were on a leash, unallowed to really sell their Liza songs. Being a Greek play amongst many Greek antiquities at the Getty Villa Museum is splendiferous, but it would be preferable to be in on an enclosed theater stage, surrounded by plaster of Paris columns, had it allowed the cast to really run wild and belt those songs like Liza would have.

Normally, one may question if the expectations of a current Troubie show are realistic. Were those many productions at the Garry Marshall Theatre (formerly The Falcon), like Oedipus the King, Mama! or It's a Stevie Wonderful Life, as superb as remembered? Did OtheELO, this reviewer's first experience with the Troubadour Theatre company, really blow his mind with their ingenuity or has memory fogged those past experiences? Since many of the past dazzling productions can be found on The Troubie's YouTube page, and those videos have been revisited, memory DOES serve correctly and the productions at the beginning of the millennium were momentous, and the latest shows, Lizastrata in particular, pale in comparison.

Lizastrata plays at the Getty Villa Museum until October 2nd. Tickets may be purchased at Note: At this moment, the entire run is sold out, but check back on the website for any changes.

Photo by Craig Schwartz

From This Author - Jonas Schwartz-Owen

Review: MOULIN ROUGE! THE MUSICAL at Pantages Theatre
July 22, 2022

There have been jukebox musicals for decades, but never has a jukebox been so overstuffed that the 45s came spiraling out of the cabinet, spinning off the stage to decapitate the audience. This Tony-winning musical extravaganza is completely ridiculous and utterly intoxicating. It pounds you into submission, and before you know it, you're having a marvelous time.

April 6, 2022

Lucas Hnath is an ambitious playwright. He turned his mother's harrowing recollections of being abducted in the '90s into a riveting, intimate one-woman tale, Dana H, where the actress lip-syncs to the recording that his mother had made. Despite such legends as Harold Prince, Betty Comden and Adolph Green flopping with a sequel to Ibsen's A Doll's House, he soldiered on with A Doll's House, Part 2, creating a funny and absorbing examination of 19th Century gender wars. Now, he examines the life of Walt Disney in A Public Reading of an Unproduced Screenplay About the Death of Walt Disney. And though Hnath appears to have a focused vision, this time his deliberate touch distances the character from the audience and leaves this reviewer nonplussed.

BWW Review: ANYTHING GOES Starring Sutton Foster Hits the Big Screen
March 23, 2022

The buzz on the internet about Sutton Foster playing Marian the Librarian in the latest Music Man revival was polarizing to say the least, but NO ONE can claim that Sutton Foster wasn't born to play Reno Sweeney in the classic Cole Porter musical farce, Anything Goes. Foster won a Tony playing the role on Broadway in 2011, and in 2021, returned to the role at the Barbican Theatre in London, belting out standards like the title number, 'I Get A Kick Out Of You', and the famous list song, 'You're The Top'. Trafalgar Entertainment and Stage2view filmed the cast during the London run and will now air the presentation in American movie theaters for two nights.

BWW Review: THE LEHMAN TRILOGY at Ahmanson Theatre
March 10, 2022

Three men stand on a stage for over three hours, trekking through 150 years of history in The Lehman Trilogy and it's the most invigorating evening imaginable. Directed by Sam Mendes and written by Stefano Massini—and adapted by National Theatre dramaturg Ben Power -- the play is a remarkable journey of three immigrant brothers from Bavaria, who travel to America to start a small business that evolves into the money-making machine known as Lehman Bros.

BWW Interview: Ross Mollison And Petra Massey of ATOMIC SALOON at Atomic Saloon Theatre
October 24, 2021

SpiegelWorld gives Vegas audiences a chance to laugh again. An Interview with creator Ross Mollison and performer Petra Massey