"War Paint" at Nederlander Theatre NYC - Will's New York Nite Life
"War Paint," Now Playing at Nederlander Theatre in New York City
"War Paint" is a New Musical by Scott Frankel (music), Michael Korie (lyrics), and Doug Wright (book)
Original Cast Album on Ghostlight Records
208 West 41st Street
People tend to talk about “show music” as if the term means just one thing. But the range of music currently on Broadway, from the African-influenced choral music in “The Lion King” to Andrew Lloyd Webber’s version of heavy metal in “School of Rock” is astonishing - it would be impossible to think of a musical genre with more variety and diversity than musical theater. For this tale of the decades-long rivalry between two major cosmetics baronesses of the 1930s and ‘40s, songwriters Scott Frankel and Michael Korie decided to create a score that matches the era - as opposed to say “Hamilton,” which makes a point of telling a story of the 18th century using contemporary pop music that is deliberately as inauthentic as possible. The first themes we hear on the “War Paint” album are a very imaginative recreation of a WW2-era radio jingle, and many of the romantic themes sound like something beautiful women would have danced to in the period, even as they were wearing make-up produced by the two cut-throat competitors who dominated the business, Elizabeth Arden (Christine Ebersole) and Helena Rubenstein (Patti LuPone). The music captures the vintage feel of its time period while being, at the same time, not in the least retro or “old-fashioned.” Among the show’s other innovations is the general absence of romantic songs and traditional love duets - not only are there two leading ladies and no leading men, but they’re both larger than life sacred monster divas who can’t stand each other. (If “A Bronx Tale,” a few blocks uptown at the Longacre Theater, is a “coming of age” story, this might be called a “coming of rage” story.) Even if you haven’t yet seen the show, the album is a thing of beauty all by itself - with or without makeup - and more than worthy of the combined talents of its two Tony-nominated name-above-the-title leading ladies.
Author: Will Friedwald
Will Friedwald writes about music and popular culture for THE WALL STREET JOURNAL & VANITY FAIR, and reviews current shows for THE OBSERVER and THE CITIVIEW NEW YORK. He also is the author of eight books including the award-winning A BIOGRAPHICAL GUIDE TO THE GREAT JAZZ AND POP SINGERS, SINATRA: THE SONG IS YOU, STARDUST MELODIES, TONY BENNETT: THE GOOD LIFE, LOONEY TUNES & MERRIE MELODIES, and JAZZ SINGING. He has written over 600 liner notes for compact discs, received ten Grammy nominations, and appears frequently on television and other documentaries. He is also a consultant and curator for Apple Music.
SINATRA: THE SONG IS YOU - NEW REVISED EDITION (Chicago Review Press, May 2018)