Friday, July 01, 2016

REVIEW: Patti Lupone and Christine Ebersole in' War Paint' at Goodman Theatre Chicago

Saw Patti and Christine last night in War Paint at the Goodman Theatre- they were amazing.  The show was "meh", the songs were not entirely memorable, but OMG did they fucking SING.  I didn't care what they were saying, it was Patti Lupone and Christine Ebersole, they could sing cooking recipes and I'd listen all day long.

Long awaited and eagerly anticipated, War Paint has been on the tip of everyone's tongues lately - and rightly so.  Broadway royalty has made the trek to Chicago and people want to show their appreciation.  Friends at work who aren't into theater have been asking about it, so I know a lot of people are talking about it.

Typically our tickets aren't until the end of the run, literally we're the last Thursday performance before close, so we're used to seeing some well performed theater at Goodman, but I had to change out my tickets for an earlier date because of some things going on later this month - and I snagged the FIRST Thursday performance.

I love seeing the first previews of a show, when it's still raw and the actors are finding their way and learning how to make the characters real.  This show was no different, it was remarkably tight for a third performance - everyone was en pointe, or as the kids say "on fleek."

The stage hands definitely have their work cut out for themselves on this show, there is a ton of movement in this show - things going on and off the stage up and down from the fly EVERY scene - literally every scene.  Which is so different from most Goodman shows where they have a single set, like Vanya and Sasha; or a really innovative set like the rotating stage of Luna.  The sets are usually beautiful and semi-stationary.  The sets for War Paint are beautiful and on the move, so much movement, so much light design, so many beautiful duets sung together yet separately at the same time.  The staging was impeccable and for so early in the run - not that I was expecting problems but I can imagine it will only get better as they go, the stagehands deserve a round of applause.

I took my friend Logan with me, I've known Logan for 20+ years and last night was the first time I seriously ever saw him go totally Broadway Queen - he was more excited than I was to see Patti, it shocked me.  Patti has this strange European accent that she sometimes lost while singing, but you know what I didn't care, because watching her sing live is all encompassing, she'll get it, it was the third performance.  As the show went on she was able to carry it through, but I can't imagine how difficult it has to be to sing with an accent, to focus on the words, the music, the tone and then the accent - if anyone can do it Patti Lupone can do it.

I snapped this during curtain call, I know I'm bad but I would
never take a photo during a performance - especially Patti, she
calls people out for that shit!  
Christine Ebersole was amazing, her voice was crisp and as always amazing, I would love to hear her sing unmic'd, she could fill the room and have it bouncing off the rafters, her voice is lovely. Every word she sang was filled with purpose, you could feel her pain and loneliness, it was glorious. The screech that she lets out in the last scene was so surprising that I couldn't help but laugh.

The costumes were beautiful, couture in style and period, the spa scenes with the women were so wonderfully choreographed and so much fun to watch.  The story was interesting, so if you're like me and know nothing about it you could easily follow along and know what's going on.  There was just one "joke" that we didn't get, I had to ask the lady sitting next to me what they were laughing about - it was a make up joke!  Patti had some wonderful one liners and a fourth-wall breaking glance that was spectacular.

There was a lot of music, music between scenes, music playing during scenes as background, it was filling but not overpowering.  A few of the songs still stick with me, especially the opener "A Woman's Face" and the heart-breaker "If I'd Been a Man" OMG that song was so powerful - I can't wait to get the album for that song alone.  The song "Dinosaurs" sung by the men in Act Two needs to go or get re-worked, they really struggled pulling it off...perhaps with some practice they'll get it more in sync.  

The music wasn't outstanding, no melodies stick with me, the music was familiar but in an unfamiliar way like I think I may have heard it somewhere before but can't place it.  But the songs were soaring, Patti and Christine singing a duet together but not together never got old, to listen to them sing together and pass back and forth was delicious, I could just listen to that all day.  I'm sure that when the album comes out I'll have a different opinion because I'll be able to listen to and digest the music, in all honestly I wanted to hear Patti and Christine sing, the orchestrations were secondary.

This will go to Broadway as I can only imagine that their performance will  improve as time goes on, Patti and Christine will both be nominated for a Tony - mark my words!

P.S. There must be a lot of people rushing the Stage Door, they had security barriers and a guard watching the area.


Dop Troutman said...

You're still blogging? Very cool. Me too.

Michael Lehet said...

@Dop - Yep still going on....don't post as much here as I used to, you know how it is.

Thanks for stopping by!