After the 71st Annual Tony Awards this past Sunday, featuring beautifully staged numbers and rather predictable wins, it is reasonable to anticipate the talk turning to losses and snubs. Lee Seymour of Forbes.com has an enlightening take on the musical War Paint, which received a handful of nominations but no wins. Seymour praised the production as being “far from a dud” and proceeds to examine why it didn’t soar as high as it could have.
Maybe audiences are not accustomed to initiating discussions through questions they must ask themselves. Maybe they are not comfortable with examining their own economy and social norms when they just wanted a night of flashy entertainment. Maybe they don’t want to watch a modern period musical which basically shows that their world has not progressed as far as they’d thought.
Patti LuPone and Christine Ebersole in War Paint (Joan Marcus)
I liked Seymour’s explanation of the show being “not a platform, but a vehicle” for discussions about feminism and capitalism, cultural norms and social trends. War Paint isn’t trying to make a statement, even though it obviously touches on key social issues of today’s America. For example: can a story about the makeup industry be seen as feminist? Women who dominate any industry at all are sure to attract the attention of a feminist label – but War Paint seems to make a point of not affixing the label itself.
What was really interesting is the parallel Seymour draws between the beauty industry and the Broadway industry. The wildly successful businesses of these two matriarchs are eerily similar to the steady nature of Broadway. As Seymour observes: “the goal becomes longevity, not rebirth.” This article is an enjoyable and refreshing read about one of Broadway's highly acclaimed shows and its impact on modern society.
Read Lee Seymour’s article here: Sans Tony, 'War Paint' Asks Tough Questions On Feminism, Capitalism. Published by Forbes.com on June 16, 2017.