When I think of the perfect musical, I think of great performances, great stories, great characters that make me want to learn their story, and songs that have incredible melodies. I can now say that War Paint has all of these things.
This afternoon I attended the matinee of War Paint. The show stars Patti LuPone and Christine Ebersole as the revolutionary makeup tycoons Helena Rubinstein and Elizabeth Arden. After seeing Patti LuPone in Gypsy, I never thought that I would be able to see her top that groundbreaking performance as Mama Rose, but in War Paint, her performance is just as groundbreaking. Christine Ebersole in stark contrast to Patti LuPone, has more of an operatic voice than the Broadway belt that Patti LuPone does. Due to this contrast, their harmonies are absolutely gorgeous.
To help Patti LuPone and Christine Ebersole through this show, John Dossett (Tommy Lewis) and Douglas Sills (Harry Fleming) lend their incredible talent to the piece. One of the things I personally enjoyed a great deal was seeing a show that the female leads controlled their male counterparts.
Helena Rubinstein and Elizabeth Arden were pioneers of women controlling their own finances and businesses. Due to the show being about strong women, it has attracted many big names to attend the show. Last Thursday for the show’s opening night, Brooke Shields and Hillary Clinton were in the audience.
Along with these all-star performances, there is a great score by Scott Frankel and Michael Korie as well as a strong book by Doug Wright. These three also wrote Grey Gardens, a musical which earned Christine Ebersole her second Tony Award.
With the great writing, this show doesn’t need any makeup to make it look better, but Catherine Zuber has created costumes that make you feel that you have been transported to an early 20th century New York City.
I cannot praise this show enough. It was one of the strongest musicals I have seen in years. Beginning with the overture, you feel almost as if this musical was written during the golden age of Broadway in it’s style. Do not miss this one, and make sure to see it before Patti LuPone and Christine Ebersole leave!
A college student that sees many shows annually.