Patti LuPone and Christine Ebersole Starred as Cosmetic Titans
Today, November 5, 2017, marks the final performance for the musical War Paint, which began previews at the Nederlander Theatre on March 7, 2017, ahead of an opening night on April 6, 2017. Upon its closing, the show has played a hearty run of 269 performances, including previews. While this is by no means an unrespectable run, most musicals do not consider themselves to be successes if they close in less than a year. In the case of War Paint, the show’s lack of award recognition, coupled with mixed reviews that generally praised the performances if not the material, the show was forced to close before the one-year mark. Both Patti LuPone and Christine Ebersole earned Tony Award nominations for best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Musical, and the show already earned nominations for Best Scenic Design and Best Costume Design – however, the show went home empty-handed at the ceremony. The story of two 20th century titans of the cosmetics industry, Helena Rubenstein (played by Patti LuPone) and Elizabeth Arden (played by Christine Ebersole), War Paint was praised for its vocal performances and chronicle of important female glass ceiling shatterers, but ultimately was not considered a musical classic. The show has a book by Doug Wright, with music by Scott Frankel, and lyrics by Michael Korie.
While War Paint has recouped its original investment of $11 million, there were a few weeks in the early part of the musical’s run where the box office seemed promising. Over the course of the eight months, there were just two weeks where the weekly gross exceeded $1 million. In the week ending April 23, 2017, the show brought in a weekly gross of $1,042,449, or 82.68% of the show’s gross potential, which was the highest weekly gross of the run. The week following, the week ending April 30, 2017, trailed slightly behind, with a weekly gross of $1,001,177, or 79.41% of gross potential. Over the course of all the weeks of reported box office figures to date, which include all but the final week of the run, the average percentage reached of gross potential was 58.95%. Ever since July, the weekly grosses have fluctuated between about $500,000 and $650,000, rarely exceeding 50% of gross potential. Therefore, even without Patti LuPone’s hip problem, the show was not in great shape from a box office perspective, and the early closure may have ultimately saved the investors some of their losses from the weekly running costs.
Closing Date Moved Up Almost Two Months Due to Patti LuPone Hip Surgery
Originally, the closing date of December 30, 2017 was announced, but this shuttering was moved up by almost two months due to the fact that one of the stars, Patti LuPone, needed to undergo immediate hip replacement surgery. LuPone told the press that for many months, she had been performing in a high degree of pain, and although she sought a range of treatments – from acupuncture to physical therapy to chiropractics – the pain became too unbearable for her to go on. As such, the final performance was moved up to today. Tickets purchased for performances after today can be refunded, and exchanges for earlier performances were also offered. Nevertheless, LuPone is far from out of the game. Once she has recovered from her surgery, she is already set to tackle the role of Joanne in the upcoming London production of the musical Company. She previously played this role in the 2011 production at the New York Philharmonic.
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