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War Paint goes nowhere (review) April 1, 2017

Posted by ronannarbor in Broadway Musicals, musical theater, Musicals.
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There are two remarkable diva-proportion performances in the new musical War Paint, and it goes without saying that Patti LuPone and Christine Ebersole turn in stunning performances playing Helena Rubinstein and Elizabeth Arden and their lifelong feud.

But that’s where the interest stopped for me. In fact, its one of the very few musicals I have every started to feel drowsy at. There’s very little to this story except two headstrong independent women rising to acclaim creating cosmetic lines in the 30’s and 40’s and watching that crumble in the 50’s and 60’s along with marriages and friendships. And really, that’s it. Nothing seems to go anywhere in this musical. Even the ending doesn’t go anywhere.

There’s a great score by Scott Frankel and Michael Korie (Grey Gardens), and a wonderful set by David Korins. The standout here is the gorgeous costume design by Catherine Zuber. Wow.

Christopher Gattelli’s choreography is serviceable but really there’s very little of it; and Michael Greif has directed everything with a sure hand and a professional touch.

But to be honest, two hours of this 2:30 show (including intermission) is Patti and Christine standing in spotlights, or sitting in spotlights, singing straight out to the audience. Sometimes alone. Sometimes in duets. There isn’t much there there.

The audience was comprised of almost entirely 60-and-over women, their haggard looking husbands, and gay men. Seriously, I think that was the entire demographic at my performance. It has never taken me longer to get out of a theater given the clientele’s age than it did at this theater, and never have I wanted to get out more quickly.

Recommended only for fans of Patti Lupone, Christine Ebersole, or the few people who are really interested in this cosmetics tale.

Not recommended.

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Patti Lupone at Hill Auditorium — Review November 21, 2009

Posted by ronannarbor in Ann Arbor, Entertainment, Theatre.
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The first of the fall’s big local Broadway Events occured last night at Hill Auditorium, presented by the University Musical Society at the University of Michigan — Patti Lupone in concert (“Coulda Woulda Shoulda”).

Comprised of songs she has sung in Broadway productions, songs she could have sung, and songs she made her own with a special twist, the two-hour evening was thrilling, entertaining, and reminded the audience just what a Broadway Diva Patti truly is.

Starting the evening off by shouting “Go Blue” followed by an anti-OSU slur, she had the crowd in the palm of her hand from the first moments — what followed was pure Broadway at it’s best. “Don’t Cry for Me Argentina” continues to amaze, and a set in which she sang songs normally performed by men on stage was fun and edgy.

The years have mellowed Patti. Her stories between song sets are tamer, and less obscenity-strewn. I’ve seen her perform many many times live now — on stage in Evita, Sunset Boulevard, Gypsy, Anything Goes…on stage with her cabaret show at NYC’s Bottom Line on two occasions, and in several other performances in NYC. She no longer shares stories of intoxicated travels while performing on cruise ships. This is a more refined Patti — a Patti that has literally seen it all, and then some.

She’s been performing the Coulda Woulda Shoulda concert now since 2007, alternating performances with her Patti Live concert, and a shared evening with Mandy Patinkin. No matter which incarnation of her concert you see, she’s a force to be reckoned with, and remains one of America’s musical theatre treasures.

Ann Arbor was treated to a taste of what makes her special — and what makes Broadway special. I rode out a migraine through the show, because she is a diva not to be missed. Brava Patti, Brava. Oh, and I agree….the Buckeyes DO suck…

And that’s the view from Ann Arbor today.