tephanie Jae Park is a talented singer, actress, and dancer who shines in the World Premiere musical, "War Paint" from the acclaimed Broadway team of librettist Doug Wright, composer Scott Frankel, lyricist Michael Korie, and director Michael Greif. "War Paint" runs at Goodman Theatre (http://www.goodmantheatre.org/warpaint) until August 21, 2016 and is the powerful tale of two masters of self-invention who sacrificed everything to become the country’s first major female entrepreneurs. Their 50 year rivalry drove them to the top of a world dominated by men. Let's meet Ms. Park, who effortlessly transitions between several characters and is the only woman of color in this historically important show.
What's your personal story?
I was born and raised on Guam, the youngest of three girls in a very musical family. I'm very lucky to have a mother who believed so strongly in me, and kept me in voice, piano, and dancing lessons throughout my life. I grew up singing opera, and spent a year at Northwestern as an opera major. Once I decided to pursue musical theatre, I transferred to CCM (University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music), and got my BFA in musical theatre. I graduated in 2014, and then went on tour with Cinderella for a couple months. After that, I worked at the Lincoln Center doing The King and I. That experience was so special and important to me- I was introduced to the Asian American theatre community, and found a lot of pride within that community. And now, I'm here doing War Paint! I feel very fortunate to be able to do what I love.
What's your character's story in "War Paint"?
Which one? Haha but really, I play many characters throughout the show- Arden girl, Rubinstein technician, WAC, Fire and Ice girl, etc. I'll concentrate on the Arden girl since it's what I spend most time in. Her name is Madge, and she represents the perfect young woman. Madge grew up in Chinatown, NY, where her parents had fled because of the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882. In her free time, Madge would walk up the streets of Manhattan to observe the rich, white, elegant women, where she discovered the Red Door Salon. She was fascinated by all things beauty and glamour, and dreamed of working at the Red Door Salon one day. One of Miss Arden's workers noticed her one day, and took an interest in her. She was then introduced to Miss Arden, who saw potential in her, and allowed her to work at the Red Door Salon on a trial basis when she was 19 years old. Miss Arden was impressed by Madge's efficiency and elegance, and was given a permanent position. She's now worked at the Red Door Salon for two years.
What challenges does your character face telling this story?
Madge's main challenge is figuring out her identity both as a woman and as an Asian American in a time when both were oppressed in America. In Chinatown, there were very few women compared to men, so she sought role models away from home, and found one in Elizabeth Arden. Like Miss Arden, she places work over personal life, and puts all her efforts and attention into being a working woman. Madge feels caught between her two worlds, and doesn't feel like she truly belongs in either.
How does your character overcome those challenges?
I don't think she has it all figured out yet. She's smart, but young. For now, she fakes it til she makes it. She's found a home and a family at the Red Door Salon, and any time she feels attacked, she pushes her shoulders back, stands a little taller, and smiles a big, poisonous smile.
Any last comments?
Come see us! We run until August 21 :)