War Paint

Based on a book by Lindy Woodhouse, War Paint is a musical about the rivalry between two cosmetics tycoons: Helena Rubenstein and Elizabeth Arden. Both women built huge empires at a time when women were just starting to “paint their faces.” Before the early 20th century a good woman didn’t use cosmetics.

War Paint stars two-time Tony Award winners Patti LuPone and Christine Ebersole who really bring these women to life. Rubenstein and Arden had an intense rivalry for over 50 years. The rivalry got particularly heated when Arden hired Rubenstein’s marketing director thus pushing aside her husband who served her as an unsung hero. As a result Arden’s husband crossed over to Rubenstein’s company. It’s a fascinating look at character and how a business survives through social changes from the 1930s to 1960s. The music is witty and lively.

War Paint is definitely worth seeing. I may go again.

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