Illustration by Sarah Olin
Most couples would consider themselves fortunate to finish the day without an argument over who cooks dinner and who washes the dishes. For playwright Douglas Carter Beane and musician Lewis Flinn, there was an added complication -- collaborating on a big-budget Broadway musical.
The pair first presented Lysistrata Jones, their contemporary musical riff on the Aristophanes comedy Lysistrata -- complete with spunky cheerleaders and dancing basketball players -- at the Dallas Theater Center last year. But it wasn't until May, when they staged it Off-Off Broadway with director Dan Knechtges on the basketball court of the Judson Memorial Church (where they are both members), that it became a critical and popular hit.
"We wanted to make something that would include songs from the vernacular of the day," explains Flinn, who credits Grease and Dreamgirls as points of reference. "We were definitely fortunate that Glee was around to show that it's hip to be square."
The couple first met 10 years ago, when Flinn was brought in to create songs for Beane's Music From a Sparkling Planet. "Doug says we're a 9/11 couple," remarks Flinn, who composed for Beane's The Little Dog Laughed and other plays over the years. Aside from a creative partnership, the couple also collaborated on a more domestic production: their children, Cooper, 7, and Gaby, 5, both adopted as infants from Guatemala.
So, how is it balancing domestic and creative duties? "The tricky moments are at the beginning, since everyone has to be on the same page and work together," Flinn explains, but it does become a mishmash of both worlds. "In our case, we're already in a relationship, so there's a level of respect and trust. But sometimes we'll be picking up after the kids are asleep, and I'll say, 'I really want to change this line,' and then go, 'By the way, the cleaning lady comes tomorrow, and you need to pick up something at the store.' " And if that works its way into the show, hopefully it's for the best.
Lysistrata Jones opens December 14 at the Walter Kerr Theater in New York City.