Theater Reviews: Present Laughter and War Paint

Present Laughter

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Official Blurb: Legendary Academy Award® and Tony Award® winner Kevin Kline makes his eagerly awaited return to Broadway in Noël Coward’s outrageously irresistible backstage comedy PRESENT LAUGHTER.With a spectacular cast headed by three-time Tony® and Emmy® Award nominee Kate Burton (Scandal, Grey’s Anatomy), Tony Award® nominee Kristine Nielsen (Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike), and Cobie Smulders (How I Met Your Mother, Jack Reacher: Never Go Back) in her Broadway debut, with direction by Tony Award® nominee Moritz von Stuelpnagel (Hand to God), PRESENT LAUGHTER follows a self-obsessed actor in the midst of a mid-life crisis. Juggling his considerable talent, ego and libido, the theater’s favorite leading man suddenly finds himself caught between fawning ingenues, crazed playwrights, secret trysts and unexpected twists.

My Take: I had actually never seen Present Laughter and was amazed at how delightfully funny the play was! A wonderful Noel Coward show. However, as great as the show is the reason to go see it is to see the wonderful acting class put on by Kevin Kline. A very worthy recipient of The tony for leading actor, he is charming and takes great command of the stage, you can’t take your eyes off him. Although he is certainly the draw, the supporting cast is stellar as well. My favorites of the ensemble were two of my TV favorites: Kate Burton and Colbie Smulders


War Paint

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Official Blurb:   “A MAJOR MUSICAL. RICH, EPIC AND ENGROSSING. A CELEBRATION OF BROADWAY CRAFTSMANSHIP.” The Washington PostTwo-time Tony Award-winning legends Patti LuPone and Christine Ebersole join forces to portray the trailblazing cosmetic icons who built empires in a business world ruled by men.From the creators of Grey Gardens and the director of Rent and Next to Normal, WAR PAINT tells the remarkable story of Helena Rubinstein and Elizabeth Arden—fierce rivals who defined 20th Century beauty. In creating an industry, they reinvented themselves and revolutionized how the world saw women.

My Take: Lupone and Christine Ebersole are theater rockstars. I had seen Christine in Grey Gardens but I had never managed previously to see Patti Lupone live. This shows was worth the price of admission and more to make that happen. She is amazing, a powerhouse on the stage and I was amazed to be 5 rows from her. Both of them kill it, both in their individual songs as well as in the duets. They anavigate n interesting balance where both shine brightly but neither outshines the other. A true partnership of greats. 

Have you realized I have not talked about the show yet? Maybe it’s because there is really not that much to say. It is two bring down the house performances in a good story in a pretty musical with mediocre music. I can’t recall one song I liked, but I loved the stage and especially the  costumes. Each number has a costume change witit was an embarrassment of riches. 

Would I recommend this show  without it’s stars? Definitely not. But given that Patti gave an interview saying that this is probably her last musical on Broadway, that should be reason  enough to head over to the Nederlander.


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