Lempicka Creators Carson Kreitzer and Matt Gould Wrote ‘Woman Is’ In a Day | Playbill

Special Features Lempicka Creators Carson Kreitzer and Matt Gould Wrote ‘Woman Is’ In a Day

Ahead of the new musical’s Broadway run, composer Gould details the creation of the show’s Act One finale.

Carson Kreitzer and Matt Gould Kevin Doan

Matt Gould and Carson Kreitzer's Lempicka begins performances at the Longacre Theatre March 19, with opening night set for April 14. Gould, who composed the show’s music and co-wrote the book, shared some insight behind the rousing Act One finale, “Woman Is.”

Lempicka follows the true story of Polish painter Tamara de Lempicka, a young aristocrat-turned-artist who flees with her husband from the turmoil of the Russian Revolution for exile in Paris. Once there, Tamara meets her new muse, Rafaela, and claws her way to success. The book, lyrics, and original concept are by Kreitzer. Tony winner Rachel Chavkin is at the helm. 

According to Gould, “Woman Is” was solidified on the first day of Lempicka’s creative process 14 years ago. “Richard Maltby says, ‘You write the first page of your show, and then you spend the next 10 years trying to get everything else to live up to the first page that you wrote,’” Gould says, paraphrasing the Tony-winning director. “That’s [‘Woman Is’]. It’s day one. We wrote that song, and we were like, ‘This is so cool, we’re going to make a musical.’ 14 years later, I think we might almost be there.”

Below, see Eden Espinosa perform the number in the music video below before her Broadway turn in the title role.

“Woman Is” takes place once Tamara has escaped the Russian Revolution. After enduring the arduous journey, then scrubbing floors in Paris to feed her family, she has turned to painting. When she meets Rafaela, Tamara is enchanted by the bohemian’s confidence and free-spirited nature, and is determined to paint her.

“When [Tamara] does get the chance to paint [Rafaela], she wants to do more with her than just paint her,” Gould hints. “But this is a problem, because she’s married, and because this is happening at a time where women loving women [was] not socially acceptable. So she has to make a choice: ‘Am I going to play by the rules and do what I’ve always been taught to do, and essentially die inside, or am I going to live?’ And ‘Woman Is’ is the point in the show, at the end of Act One, when she decides which of those things she’s going to do.”

For Gould, this conflict between passion and order is at the core of Lempicka. Gould noted the depiction of the struggle between beauty and industry—particularly the unintended consequences of capitalism and the pursuit of wealth—as inspiration for the score (which makes it appropriate that Chavkin is directing considering Hadestown straddles similar themes). As he wrote, Gould recalls envisioning a factory setting, full of the clanging of metal anvils—but accompanied by a hint of peace, like a soft, romantic, string quartet tucked in a corner.

"To me, that’s the world that we live in,” Gould says. “There’s so much that we’re afraid of, and angry [at], and [we’re saying], ‘The world’s coming to an end!’ At the same time, there are these moments of profound humanity, and beauty, and love all around us. When you look at Lempicka’s work, you see the tension between the human form—humanity—and the industrial mess behind them…To me, that’s what’s in the music.” Watch Gould speak more on Lempicka in the video below.

READ: Meet the Creative Team for the Broadway-Bound Lempicka

Lempicka’s Broadway bow will feature choreography by Raja Feather Kelly (A Strange Loop), scenic design by Riccardo Hernández, costume design by Paloma Young, lighting design by Bradley King, sound design by Peter Hylenski and Justin Stasiw, projection design by Peter Nigrini, hair and wig design by Mia Neal, music supervision by Remy Kurs, music direction by Charity Wicks, orchestrations by Cian McCarthy, and casting by The Telsey Office. Peter Duchan is serving as creative consultant, and Cody Renard Richard will be production stage manager.

The musical had its world premiere in 2019 at the Williamstown Theatre Festival, and was staged again at La Jolla Playhouse in 2022. Both productions were also directed by Chavkin, with Espinosa in the title role. The work was also developed at the National Alliance for Musical Theater's Festival of New Musicals in 2016.

Seaview and Jenny Niederhoffer are producing, with Wagner Johnson Productions serving as executive producers.

Visit LempickaMusical.com.

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