Bow Down! Broadway Icon Patti LuPone Sounds Better Than Ever in War Paint
June 5th, 2017
by Josh Ferri
Two-time Tony and Grammy winner Patti LuPone is (without hyperbole) one of the best, most distinct voices in musical theatre. It takes one note to know whose voice you’re listening to, and whether she’s belting “Rainbow High” or “Everything’s Coming Up Roses”, it’s always on legendary status.
Which makes it all the more mind-blowing that Patti sounds next level insane in her new musical War Paint. [To be fair, co-star Ebersole is brilliant as well and her “Pink” is a total triumph.] Below, BroadwayBox dives into some of our favorite Patti LuPone moments from the new War Paint cast recording from Sh-k-boom.
“Back on Top”
Patti lets it fly right from her big entrance—no saving it for end of Act 1 or the Act 2 showstopper. Patti didn’t come to War Paint to play. She starts that Patti soar around 1:17; I want to make her “take the cash” at 1:48 my ring back tone; and I want to wrap myself up in the 20-something seconds from 2:04-2:27. Then you’d be hard pressed to find a better sung moment from any of the other divas this season than what Patti is giving you in the last 20 seconds of her first(!) number.
“My Secret Weapon”
Patti’s second song REALLY works on stage, it’s a lot lyrically to listen to without the visual; but my god no one sells a number like Patti (without hamming it up for the cheap seats in the back). How do you not have a reaction to the “Cherchez la femme” moment at :32?! #ThatCreamPronunciationAllDayLong
“My American Moment”
Here Ms. LuPone is giving you full Juilliard/The Acting Company with a healthy side of belting. It’s very, “Yes, I’m trained, and yes, I can sing like this…still. What’s next?”
“If I’d Been a Man”
This is beautiful duet with Christine Ebersole—Broadway’s OG Glinda and Elphaba types. Patti comes in at the 2-minute mark, and she wastes no time taking you there. It feels like she is flying from note to note—infusing each with regret and heartbreak. When the two voices come together at 3:45, little gay angels get their wings.
“Oh, That’s Rich”
This trial drama is one of my favorite parts of Act 1 and the song is EVERYTHING. Just listen to all the color in there from :30-:52. Again, Christine is equally brilliant. The end of this number really shows how perfectly matched this duo is.
“Face to Face”
Ok, here it is. It’s the end of Act 1 and the ladies go full Side Show belting out side by side. Patti begins it and sings like she has a 15-minute break coming to her so why not just set the Nederlander on fire… The back phrasing and the vibrato in the first minute alone. Then it's all chills for the final 30 seconds beginning at 3:34.
“Necessity Is the Mother of Invention”
This patriotic WWII number just makes you want to move. How rich and full does Patti sound from :50 to :55?! Then just listen to her plowing through the end of that song, beginning at 2:43. 🙌 🙌
“Now You Know”
Patti is making sure you get every single lyric in this soul-baring ballad. It’s so full of emotion without ever sacrificing any of that vocal flair. That “great lady” at 2:10 is how I feel about Patti listening to this recording today. I’m not even ready to discuss 2:23-2:57. It was too epic. I stared at my computer in disbelief of the sound coming out.
“No Thank You”
Line readings for daaaayyysss. She begins at 1:57 and even manages to get the title line in before the belt. Also her “selling sexual allure at the five and dime” is my new Insta bio. In all seriousness though, you can’t help but smile when she goes from 2:44-2:58. Also that “wife” at 4:07—a thousand Broad City Yas Queen GIFs.
“Fire & Ice”
This isn’t about Patti, but it’s a killer number and must be included. LuPone sounds great at 1:50 and she has a laugh line at 2:40, but Christine has my favorite read of the show “just look at her, she’s as cheap as a paper plate” at 2:06.
We could begin and end the whole thing right here. Patti’s 11 o’clock number about aging and beauty is BEYOND. She doesn’t waste a single moment—she hits every joke, she slays every note. It just grows and builds until she has you in her palm (2:44-3:10)—and then in true Patti fashion, she squashes you. The last 15 seconds are remarkable from anyone, but especially from a star who has been performing on Broadway since 1973. No one does it like Patti.
“Beauty in the World”
You can’t just end the show after the one-two punch of “Pink” and “Forever Beautiful” so you fast forward to the future and have one last big duet to wrap it up. I LIVE for the book scene kiki that begins at 1:30. Patti delivers my second favorite read of the show, “with a product of quality you have to know how to apply it,” and she sneaks in another pronunciation of cream. Not to discount all she does from 2:53 to the end, ‘cause she’s still serving at 100.
This half-spoken, half-belted epilogue is just one last parting shot for fans. At the theatre you have to leave, with the recording you can just start again.
Don't miss Patti LuPone and Christine Ebersole in 'War Paint' at Broadway's Nederlander Theatre.