City Paper is not for tourists
Playing at: Atlas Performing Arts Center: Lab II
Remaining performances: July 14 at 7:45 p.m., July 16 at 2 p.m. Tickets available here.
They say: Combine the classic Little Women with rap music.
Sarah’s take: Lil Women: A Rap Musical is probably not going to struggle to sell tickets to its two final performances. It’s got a grabby name and premise: the beloved novel Little Women combined with hip-hop songs. It could be an entertaining train-wreck! Or the next Hamilton!
It’s neither of those extremes, but it’s certainly not worth the $17 cost of admission.
From the first rap, when sisters Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy introduce themselves through rhyme accompanied by hip-hop posturing, Lil Women begs to be funnier. The 60-minute play shifts between hokey-as-hell rap numbers and bafflingly earnest dialogue. It’s as if someone dropped some really mediocre LL Cool J and Sugar Hill Gang parodies into a dull stage adaptation of Little Women.
In short: Lil Women needs to be more of a Jo and less of a Meg.
There are moments when the show is actually, genuinely funny. Much of this depends on how committed the actor is to rapping and how salvageable the lyrics are. Beth, in particular, benefits from getting to die, which sets the character up for perhaps the biggest laughs in the show.
Hamilton looks somewhat silly on paper (a hip-hop musical about the first secretary of the treasury!), but it has a genius score and an A-plus cast and crew. It gets to be funny and sad and serious because it earns every emotion. Lil Women on the other hand wants to be funny and sad and serious, but only occasionally earns a chuckle. If you’re going to do something as silly as mount a rap musical based on a Louisa May Alcott book but Lin-Manuel Miranda isn’t around to write it, embrace the ridiculous.
See it if: Vanilla Ice is your favorite rapper.
Skip it if: You have the Hamilton cast recording.