Album Review: War Paint (2017 Original Broadway Cast Recording)

“She’s coming, she’s coming…she’s here!”

The rivalry between beauty moguls Helena Rubinstein and Elizabeth Arden has proven a rich one for theatrical exploitation, impressively so given that the pair never actually met. So though the UK got the play Madame Rubinstein and the US got the musical War Paint, both had to find their way into creating a narrative that somehow brings them together whilst respecting their individual strengths.

I’m not so sure John Misto’s play achieved that, despite the best efforts of Miriam Margoyles and Frances Barber but on the evidence of the cast recording, I think War Paint (currently running at the Nederlander), with book by Doug Wright, music by Scott Frankel, and lyrics by Michael Korie, with the mighty Patti LuPone and Christine Ebersole at the helm gets a darned sight closer. Continue reading “Album Review: War Paint (2017 Original Broadway Cast Recording)”

Review: Grey Gardens, Southwark Playhouse

“Those on the outside clamouring to get in, those on the inside dying to get out”

The story of Edith Ewing Bouvier Beale and her daughter Edith Bouvier Beale was immortalised in a 1975 documentary called Grey Gardens. As part of the American aristocracy, insofar as their connections with the Kennedys (their niece/cousin Jackie would become Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis), they held a certain fascination but the discovery that they were living together in squalor, their fortune squandered and their East Hampton mansion overrun with cats, made them appallingly compelling subjects and consequently elevated them to cult status.

That it took someone ‘til 2006 to turn it into a musical feels like a surprise, but Doug Wright’s book, Scott Frankel’s music and Michael Korie’s lyrics are more thoughtfully considered than one might expect – reflected in the success of its Tony-winning Broadway transfer from Off-Broadway – and so it’s only fitting that it is now added to director Thom Southerland’s roster of musical theatre hits at the Southwark Playhouse. Continue reading “Review: Grey Gardens, Southwark Playhouse”