WAR PAINT. 3 Great minutes
Posted by: NewtonUK 09:12 am EDT 04/14/17

What an interesting, and disappointing evening of theatre. Two great divas in a musical with not much of a plot - at least they'll sing great songs all night! Well - maybe not. I don;t believe there are any songs in this show - just a lot of 'music' and pedestrian lyrics that sound like dialogue set to music. Sure, Ms Lupone gets to plant her feet and sing loudly on pitch, jaw quivering, and some cheer every time she does this - but these just aren't songs (in my book) - nothing to 'take home with you'.

At any rate - a musical about two cosmetics rivals, both successful, who in life refused to ever meet and speak for over 50 years. So of course, this stifles most of the evening as they keep singing competing versions of the same music so that the roles are equal. I imagine if you held a stop watch during a performance they would each have an identical amount of music and stage time. Its that kind of event.

So how to have any drama? Well, Doug Wright has read his Schiller (and/or Donizetti's version of Schiller). As in Mary Stuart/Maria Stuarda, the play and opera about Mary Stuart and Eliz I - the only way to get drama out of two women who never met is to invent a scene of them meeting secretly and swearing never to reveal that the meeting took place. In Schiller and Donizetti this scene is the center piece of great Drama.

In WAR PAINT its three minutes or so of very funny snarky dialogue, leading to a very warm and cuddly sense of wouldn't we have been a great team! - before they go there own ways - but wait they turn back and sing some more of an 'almost a song but not quite', then they go their own ways.

And of course there is no dancing in the show, and our two divas sit on desks, sit in chairs, lie on beds, occasionally stand up, and less occasionally walk. We can't blame the director. There is no drama here, no place for our leading ladies to go - except stand or sit around talking about formulas for face creams, or how much they hate their rival. FOr 2.5 hours.

There is more drama in the first 10 minutes of the PBS documentary on Arden and Rubinstein than in this entire show.

And one more note: At the beginning of Act 2, Helena Rubenstein (Jewish) is worried about her family members still in Germany as Hitler rises to power. In the next breath she is talking about Henry Ford leading the war effort. I guess she didnt know that Ford was one of America's leading anti-Semites. His articles for the newspaper he bought, the Dearborn Independent, were collected into a book called THE INTERNATIONAL JEW. It was a great hit in Germany. I n1931, Hitler called Ford 'his inspiration'. Convicted Hitler Youth leader Baldur von Shirach (who sent 65,000 Viennese Jews to the death camps) testified at Nuremberg Trials that reading Fird's THE INTERNATIONAL JEW made him and his friends embrace anti-semitism, emulating the life of a successful American businessman.

Maybe I misheard something in the book, and maybe Rubenstein actually condemned Ford in this dialogue. But I don't think so.

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