Earlier this year I was honoured to see one of the most love actresses of our time, Patti LuPone, live on the Broadway stage. She is currently performing alongside Christine Ebersole in War Paint – a new musical, which opened to rave reviews a few months ago. The Original Broadway Cast Recording has just been released and I was sent a copy of it to review! So here we go.
War Paint tells the true story of cosmetic entrepreneurs Helena Rubinstein (Patti LuPone) and Elizabeth Arden (Christine Ebersole) who went head to head to change the way women saw cosmetics in the 1950’s. Now, when I saw the show, I was hoping for something like The Devil Wears Prada the musical and I wasn’t bowled over by the show I actually saw. A very nice, pretty but very old fashioned musical that did nothing more than any other good musical of that time. If you’re going to create a brand new musical, set seventy years ago then you should make it different from all the shows that were created in that era. War Paint, for me, seemed to blend in with all those shows and didn’t stand out as particularly special. Apart from the joy of seeing Patti LuPone only metres in front of me, I didn’t really care for the production.
However, upon listening to the Original Broadway Cast Recording, I found myself with it on repeat and have listened to nothing else for the past few days. I can’t quite put my finger on why, I mean much of the music sounds the same and there isn’t really an eleven o’cock number but there is something fascinating about the recording that has drawn me in. Patti LuPone and Christine Ebersole are both Tony Award winners and are incredible performers. Their voices shine through in this recording and it really does make me want to go and see it again, now I appreciate the music more.
It’s hard to pick out key songs on this album because they really work best together when listened to a whole. However, the opening number Best Face Forward, If I’d Been A Man, Pink and Forever Beautiful and all very good.
I’ve never disliked a show in person but then appreciated the recording more but this show is definitely a grower and gets better with every listen. War Paint is nominated for four Tony Awards (including both leading actresses for best actress) and if this recording is anything to go by, they might just walk away with a gong or two.
Reviewed by West End Wilma
War Paint is available for digital download now and is due for release on CD in July 2017