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*War Paint,* 4/14/17

Richard, Stephen, Robert, and I went to see *War Paint* on 4/14/17. I liked it, Richard did not like it, Stephen and Robert didn't like it at ALL.

It's a new musical about the rivalry between Elizabeth Arden and Helena Rubenstein, makeup magnates of the 30s through the 60s. It's like *Mary Stuart* for the early 20th century - - two powerful women squaring off against each other. And just as was the case for Elizabeth I and Mary Queen of Scots, the two women never met each other in real life but the dramatists felt the need to create a scene where they come face to face.

The show has music by Scott Frankel, lyrics by Michael Korie, a book by Doug Wright, and is directed by Michael Grief. These same four guys did *Grey Gardens,* which ran on Broadway from 2006 to 2007 and was one of the most brilliant shows I've ever seen. *War Paint* seemed like the perfect vehicle for a reunion by this team, but it doesn't come anywhere near the quality of *Grey Gardens.*

My diagnosis of the show: is it the good turtle soup, or merely the mock? It had all the verve and first-class showmanship of a satisfying Broadway musical. The songs were well-paced, though Richard thought they all sounded the same after a while. Most of the songs were for one of the two leading ladies, and they're either brittle or ballads (brittle ballads). The design was stunning: the sets, the costumes, shoes, and hats were to die for. And clearly a lot of time went into careful calibration of how much time the two leading ladies have onstage - - not just how many songs they have, but how much dialogue they have. I told Richard that Handel did the same thing when he was writing an opera for two major divas, he had to be sure that it was precisely balanced.