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WAR PAINT: Battle of the Beauties

By Urbanmatter Chicago @UMatterChicago
War Paint Goodman Theater

War Paint
Patti LuPone as Helena Rubinstein at the Goodman Theatre

War Paint Goodman Theater The Goodman Theatre production of the new musical War Paint, which stars two-time Tony Award winners Patti LuPone ( Evita, Gypsy) and Christine Ebersole ( 42nd Street, Grey Gardens) as Helena Rubinstein and Elizabeth Arden, respectively, begins previews June 28 prior to an official opening July 18 at the Chicago venue. The Tony-winning actresses are joined by John Dossett as Tommy Lewis, Arden’s husband and chief marketing officer, and Douglas Sills as the ambitious Harry Fleming, Madame Rubinstein’s clubby confidante and faithful ally. Also in the company are Mary Ernster, Leslie Donna Flesner, David Girolmo, Joanna Glushak, Chris Hoch, Mary Claire King, Steffanie Leigh, Erik Liberman, Barbara Marineau, Stephanie Jae Park and Angel Reda. Due to ticket demand, the production announced June 28 that the musical has been extended for a second and final time through August 21 in the Albert Theatre. War Paint is a world-premiere musical by librettist Doug Wright, composer Scott Frankel, lyricist Michael Korie, choreographer Christopher Gattelli and director Michael Greif. The musical is inspired by the book War Paint, by Lindy Woodhead, and the documentary film The Powder & the Glory, by Ann Carol Grossman and Arnie Reisman. The War Paint creative team includes David Korins (set design), Catherine Zuber (costume design), Kenneth Posner (lighting design) and Brian Ronan (sound design), Bruce Coughlin (orchestrations) and Lawrence Yurman (music director).

War Paint
Christine Ebersole as Elizabeth Arden  at the Goodman Theatre

The highly anticipated debut of War Paint starring Tony Award Winners Patti LuPone and Winnetka-born Christine Ebersole was worth the wait. This world premiere paints a musical picture of cosmetic queens Helena Rubinstein and Elizabeth Arden, who defined an era and launched an industry.
Helena Rubinstein (LuPone) and Elizabeth Arden (Ebersole) were women ahead of their time or maybe at the right place at the right time who made their mark on American women and American society. What they sold was hope. They were brilliant innovators with humble roots, who were fierce competitors, not even able to mention the other’s name. They were the first to create and lead international corporations, when women were accustomed to being in the kitchen, not the lab. Both made great sacrifices in their personal and professional lives, switching lovers and marketing gurus as they battled Congress, Fifth Avenue and a fickle marketplace of women. The references to competitors Charles Revson and Estee Lauder, who successfully targeted the drugstore market were met with knowing laughter. And, incidences of anti-Semitism and other snubs made the story even more real. When two legends finally meet in person some 50 years later, they come to realize how great they could have been together.

War Paint reunites Scott Frankel and Michael Korie—the acclaimed composer and lyricist team of Grey Gardens and Far From Heaven—with Tony Award and Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Doug Wright (Grey Gardens, I Am My Own Wife, The Little Mermaid). Expertly directed by Michael Greif, he kept the story moving at a fast clip. Song and dance were clever and full of meaning. The musical is inspired by the book, War Paint, by Lindy Woodhead, and the documentary film, The Powder & the Glory.

LuPone and Ebersole are outstanding, performing with the presence of divas and the prowess of powerful vocals. They play off each other with humor and sarcasm, making the audience wonder about their real life relationship.

Patti LuPone is most well known for her role in Evita (Tony and Drama Desk Awards) as well as Gypsy (Tony, Drama Desk, Outer Critics Circle and Drama League Awards) and John Doyle’s production of Sweeney Todd (Tony, Drama Desk, Outer Critics Circle Award nominations). LuPone is also a founding member of the Drama Division of The Juilliard School and of John Houseman’s The Acting Company and the author of the New York Times best-seller, Patti LuPone: A Memoir.

Christine Ebersole has received virtually every off-Broadway award and her second Tony Award for Leading Actress in a Musical for her dual performance as Edith Beale and Little Edie Beale in Grey Gardens. She also received a Tony Award as Dorothy Brock in the smash hit revival 42nd Street. Other Broadway roles include Steel Magnolias, On the Twentieth Century, Oklahoma, and Camelot opposite Richard Burton.

Mention must be made of Catherine Zuber’s gorgeous, elegant costume designs, which reflect the changing times. The costumes in the glittering “Fire and Ice” number are sexy and sensational.

Don’t miss your rare chance to see these two divas together on stage. Due to high demand, War Paint has been extended a second and final time through August 21. For tickets, call 312.443.3800 or visit GoodmanTheatre.org/WarPaint.


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