Review: War Paint on Broadway with Patti LuPone2 min read

War Paint: It Take Two (Spectacular Divas)

[0769]_Christine Ebersole

War Paint: It Take Two (Spectacular Divas)

OR Still Expertly Applied to a Mediocre Face

by Ross

A few blocks north at the Palace Theatre, Glenn Close is getting a mid show standing ovation in Sunset Boulevard (one of my favorite theatre-going companions is over there this very same night). She is singing her big number “As If We Never Said Goodbye” half way through Act II to rapturous applause as is Bette Midler in the sure to be nominated Hello, Dolly! singing the title song, but over here at the Nederlander Theatre, two of Broadway’s biggest talents, both Tony Award winners, Patti LuPone and Christine Ebersole are up on stage singing song after song rivaling any and all others. There is no comparison. Both of these stars of War Paint are winning a different type of theatrical war then the one being chronicled in this touching big-number filled musical. The Broadway diva sing off trophy is easily won by LuPone, with a close second going to Ebersole. Will that turn into a Tony Award in June? I Bette-cha it does not, mainly because War Paint, although vocally magnificent, as a whole, it doesn’t rival that classic Dolly delight musically. With a book by the oh-so talented Doug Wright (I Am My Own Wife), music by Scott Frankel, and lyrics Michael Korie (the whole Grey Gardens creative team), War Paint fails to rise above the pedestrian, doing justice to this interesting story, but unable to rise the whole piece as high as some of the notes being sung.
War Paint 
Goodman Theater
I was flush with anticipation when I first saw War Paint in Chicago. It is not often that a brand new musical comes around starring two such huge Broadway stars, let alone one that sounds so exciting and is filled with such possibility.  The musical, directed by Michael Greif (Dear Evan Hansen, Grey Gardens again), is about the personal and corporate war between rivals  Elizabeth Arden, the blond WASPy cosmetic marketing genius behind the hugely profitably and exclusive Red Door Spa, and Polish-born Helena Rubinstein, the wildly successful makeup mogul.  It sounds like a golden idea made in stylistic heaven. Bravo to set designer, David Korins (Hamilton, Bandstand), costume designer, Catherine Zuber (Fiddler on the Roof), lighting designer, Kenneth Posner (If/Then, The Coast of Utopia), and wig designer, David Brian Brown (She Loves Me), they elevate this musical to majestic levels, matching the two heavyweight actresses that are in each corner, operating at the height of their game, battling it out in front of our very eyes. But with mascara, not boxing gloves. (for the full review: click here)
Posted on April 28, 2017
Drama Desk Award Nominations 2017