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‘War Paint,’ musical about cosmetics divas, headed to Broadway

Patti LuPone plays Helena Rubinstein, and Christine Ebsersole plays Elizabeth Arden - the fiercely competitive cosmetics moguls at the center of the musical "War Paint." (Photo: Joan Marcus)

For those who caught its sold-out world premiere run earlier this year at Chicago’s Goodman Theatre (where it became the most successful musical in that company’s history) the news should come as no surprise.

“War Paint,” the new musical about trailblazing entrepreneurs and cosmetics moguls Helena Rubinstein and Elizabeth Arden — starring two-time Tony Award winners Patti LuPone and Christine Ebersole — will open on Broadway next spring. Previews will begin March 7, 2017, with an opening set for April 6, 2017 at the Nederlander Theatre, 208 West 41st Street.

The show is the work of composer Scott Frankel and lyricist Michael Korie — the acclaimed team behind “Grey Gardens” and “Far From Heaven” — with a book by Tony Award and Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Doug Wright (“Grey Gardens,” “I Am My Own Wife,” “The Little Mermaid”), direction by Michael Greif (“Rent,” “Grey Gardens”) and choreography by Tony Award-winner Christopher Gattelli. It is inspired by Lindy Woodhead’s book, “War Paint,” and by the documentary film, “The Powder & the Glory,” by Ann Carol Grossman and Arnie Reisman.

Patti LuPone stars as Helena Rubinstein int he Broadway-bound musical, 'War Paint." (Photo: Joan Marcus)

Patti LuPone stars as Helena Rubinstein int he Broadway-bound musical, ‘War Paint.” (Photo: Joan Marcus)

The Broadway cast of “War Paint” also will feature Tony Award nominees John Dossett and Douglas Sills, reprising their roles from the Chicago production. Dossett portrays Tommy Lewis, Miss Arden’s husband and chief marketing officer, and Sills portrays the ambitious Harry Fleming, Madame Rubinstein’s confidante. (There is no word about any other members of the Chicago cast heading to New York.) A press release issued from New York also subtly suggested that the show’s creators will be tweaking the Chicago version of the musical.

Produced by David Stone and Marc Platt, “War Paint” tells the story of cosmetics titans Helena Rubinstein (LuPone) and Elizabeth Arden (Ebersole), who were instrumental in defining beauty standards during the first half of the 20th century. Brilliant innovators with “outsider” roots, both women were masters of self-invention who sacrificed everything to become the country’s first major female entrepreneurs. They also were fierce competitors, whose 50-year tug-of-war gave birth to a gargantuan industry as they built international empires in a world dominated by men.

Christine Ebersole stars as Elizabeth Arden in the Broadway-bound musical, 'War Paint." (Photo: Joan Marcus)

Christine Ebersole stars as Elizabeth Arden in the Broadway-bound musical, ‘War Paint.” (Photo: Joan Marcus)

The design team for “War Paint” includes David Korins (sets), Catherine Zuber (costumes), Kenneth Posner (lighting), and Brian Ronan (sound), with orchestrations by Bruce Coughlin and music direction by Lawrence Yurman.

For more information, visit www.warpaintmusical.com.

NOTE: Here is a link to my review of “War Paint” at the Goodman Theatre: https://chicago.suntimes.com/entertainment/war-paint-a-musical-whose-beauty-is-far-more-than-skin-deep/