Theatre Review by Matthew Murray - April 6, 2017
War Paint Book by Doug Wright. Music by Scott Frankel. Lyrics by Michael Korie. Inspired by War Paint by Lindy Woodhead and The Powder & the Glory by Ann Carol Grossman and Arnie Reisman. Directed by Michael Greif. Choreographed by Christopher Gattelli. Music Director Lawrence Yurman. Orchestrations by Bruce Coughlin. Scenic design by David Korins. Costume design by Catherine Zuber. Lighting design by Kenneth Posner. Sound design by Brian Ronan. Wig design by David Brian Brown. Makeup design by Angelina Avallone. Cast: Patti LuPone, Christine Ebersole, John Dossett, Douglas Sills, Barbara Jo Bednarczuk, Patti Cohenour, Mary Ernster, Tom Galantichm 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.
Considering the circumstances, Broadway stalwarts Dossett and Sills provided astoundingly good support, even if their thankless characters (and especially their second-act duet "Dinosaurs") couldn't be more drab, and, as mentioned, the show looks tops. David Korins's swank scenery is raw upscale style, rendered in great shocks of pink (for Elizabeth) and blue (for Helena); Catherine Zuber's costumes are a parade of clingy, eye-grabbing designs across a dizzying variety of tart genres (all of which make a return appearance in the finale); and Kenneth Posner's lights effortlessly establish Fifth Avenue society, downtown sleaze, boardroom drudgery, and everything in between.
They've captured the look and feel of a bygone New York so adroitly that you might well find yourself paying more attention to the sets and the clothes than the plotthey certainly pack more surprises and color. But be careful: You might miss Ebersole or LuPone demonstrating how stars, properly utilized, can find humanity anywhere. They're brimming with life and energy, devouring every second in pursuit of making sense of two women who were devoted to opening doors for themselves and those who came after. Their stories are worth telling and worth listening to, but not in the tedious form War Paint so soullessly delivers them.