War Paint

On Broadway
Nederlander Theater, 2017
Pre-Broadway Premiere
Goodman Theater, 2016

Book by Doug Wright
Music by Scott Frankel
Lyrics by Michael Korie
Directed by Michael Greif

Produced by David Stone & Marc Platt
Choreographed by Christopher Gatelli
Music Direction by Lawrence Yurman
Scenic Design by David Korins
Costume Design by Catherine Zuber
Lighting Design by Kenneth Posner
Sound Design by Brian Ronan
Orchestrations by Bruce Coughlin

With Patti LuPone, Christine Ebersole,
John Dossett, Douglas Sills,
Barbara Jo Bednarczuk, Patti Cohenour,
Mary Ernster, Tom Galantich,
David Girolmo, Joanna Glushak, Chris Hoch,
Mary Claire King, Steffanie Leigh,
Erik Liberman, Barbara Marineau,
Donna Migliaccio, Stephanie Jae Park,
Angel Reda, Jennifer Rias, Tally Sessions



“Patti LuPone and Christine Ebersole, Broadway’s finest, in richly distinctive roles that play to their respective strengths… and their contrasting turns here are simply mesmerizing. If this review ends up unfinished, just assume I died and went to show-queen heaven. ”

–David Rooney, The Hollywood Reporter, April 6, 1017

“LuPone and Ebersole wrap their prodigious voices around a score by Scott Frankel and Michael Korie that rings with the kind of exhilaratingly brassy notes that match the chutzpah of their characters’ ambitions.  War Paint is a welcome reminder of old-school Broadway craftsmanship and of the offbeat subjects that musical minds can illuminate with surprising elegance… A major musical.”

–Peter Marks, The Washington Post, July 19, 2016

“The score filled with real theater songs {is} as good as Broadway gets. Frankel finds hundreds of inventive ways to use period pastiche, in this case ranging from operetta giddiness to Bernstein angst, to express the vitality of the women’s ambition and explore the undercurrents of their despair. Naturally, he writes to the gifts of his leading ladies, giving LuPone plenty of red meat and sharp angles and Ebersole a series of long-line arias that keep shifting keys as if unable to find a place to rest. The singing that results is almost too rich to be believed. And what a pleasure it is to be hit by the fusillade of classic (and accurate) Broadway rhyming with which Korie loads his lyrics. These are not just the fun, uptempo kind but the kind that bite with insight. In a sad, contemplative duet called “If I’d Been a Man,” he nails the eternal dilemma of the businesswoman in a nifty couplet: “A man can be an absent parent. / Stray the way a woman daren’t.” War Paint is studded with such irreducible observations.”

–Jesse Green, Vulture, April 6, 2017

“This is a musical whose beauty is far more than skin deep. It not only explores the psyches of two “outsiders” who refuse to be denied, but captures the enduring discrimination rooted in gender, social class and age. And it traces the evolution of a major industry, along with all the shifting attitudes about female beauty, workplace opportunity, and marketing and media trends that went with them.  The classic tension between career and romance faced by women hellbent on making a mark is crucial here, as is the particularly high price in loneliness paid by those who pursue the kind of success men tend to take in stride. The warping (and simultaneously inspiring) effect of cutthroat competition is in play throughout. And the matter of legacy — a big theme in “Hamilton,” too — is here very much attuned to how it plays out for women.”

–Hedy Weiss, Chicago Sun Times, July 18, 2016

“The show is a demonstration of offbeat theatrical craftiness. We are treated to a barrage of clever parallelisms that depict how much these two very different women had in common, until the climactic scene when they wind up in the same dressing room as accidentally-paired guests of honor. The heavily melodic score finds ingenious ways of pairing them in mutual contemplation — the duet “If I’d Been a Man” is only the most obvious opportunity, as each considers what it would be like to have their ambition go unquestioned.  Their final duet, “Beauty in the World,” only confirms what we have seen all along. They are peas in a pod, rivals who never would have worked so hard, achieved so much, without the competition of the other. It’s a satisfying ending to a richly rewarding show.”

–Steven Oxman, Variety, July 19, 2016

“The claws are out in War Paint — and boy, are they perfectly lacquered.  The musical tells the gripping story of Rubinstein and Arden’s careers, warts and all.  Because of their impenetrable rivalry, every scene save for the finale involves either LuPone or Ebersole commanding center stage. At times, they share the space and sing the same lyrics, and it’s a true treat for the audience when the stars’ velvet voices harmonize. The music is strong…the lyrics are impactful, particularly the LuPone-Ebersole ballad “If I’d Been A Man,” which, incidentally, is sure to hit close to home for Hillary supporters.”

–Catilin Brody, Entertainment Weekly, April 6, 2017

War Paint comes from the same talented creative team behind Grey Gardens. Their work here is accomplished, even impeccable. Frankel proves himself a crackerjack adept at silky period pastiche in songs that evoke the changing popular styles of the 1930s into the 1950s; Korie’s well-wrought lyrics ripple with clever rhymes (who knew so much mileage could be had from cascading jokes about mascara and blush and concealer?); and Wright supplies his own tartly acidic view of the hate-hate relationship between the two reigning queens of the makeup table.”

–Charles Isherwood,  Broadway News, April 6, 2017




Vanity Fair Article by Amy Fine Collins

Variety Article by Gordon Cox:  “How War Paint Depicts a Rivalry Not a Catfight”

New York Times Feature on Patti LuPone & Christine Ebersole