Two-time Tony Award-winning legends Patti LuPone and Christine Ebersole join forces to portray the trailblazing cosmetic icons who built empires in a business world ruled by men.
From the creators of Grey Gardens and the director of Rent and Next to Normal, WAR PAINT tells the remarkable story of Helena Rubinstein and Elizabeth Arden—fierce rivals who defined 20th Century beauty.
In creating an industry, they reinvented themselves and revolutionized how the world saw women.
There are two excellent reasons to see War Paint, and their names are above the title. As Rubinstein, a Jewish immigrant with a Polish accent and a penchant for gaudy jewels, LuPone owns the stage with the confidence of someone who knows she has earned it; her gloriously rich singing sweeps all else aside. And the two distinct modes of Ebersole’s voice—the lovely head range and the brassier chest—are well-suited to the contraditions of the genteel Arden, an Ontario farm girl who became high society’s beauty queen.
I am not kidding — it really is hard to concentrate on the plot when Ebersole is swanning around in a gorgeous rose-petal-pink silk suit. Or when Lupone steps out in a billowing taffeta number dripping with thick strands of faux gems. Luckily, there’s not much plot to distract from these carefully nuanced characters, their amazing careers and dazzling wardrobes.
“War Paint” may not be one of the great musicals, but it is an enormously satisfying one. Yes, it is a showcase for established artists hungry for new material. But the show, sleekly and compassionately directed by Michael Greif and created by the team that made the haunting “Grey Gardens,” looks at American women from 1934 to 1964 through a new lens — from the lives of two business titans who took lipstick from harlots to high society.