War Paint

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War Paint (Musical)

War Paint
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Music Scott Frankel
Lyrics Michael Korie
Book Doug Wright
Basis 2004 book War Paint by Lindy Woodhead
2007 film The Powder & the Glory by Ann Carol Grossman & Arnie Reisman
Premiere July 18, 2016: Goodman Theatre, Chicago
Productions 2016 Chicago
2017 Broadway / Closed Nov 2017

War Paint is a musical with book by Doug Wright, music by Scott Frankel, and lyrics by Michael Korie, based both on Lindy Woodhead’s 2004 book War Paint and on the 2007 documentary film The Powder & the Glory by Ann Carol Grossman and Arnie Reisman. The musical focuses on the lives of and rivalry between 20th-century female entrepreneurs Elizabeth Arden and Helena Rubinstein.



The musical relates the rivalry between two important women of the cosmetics industry, Elizabeth Arden and Helena Rubinstein from the 1930s to the 1960s. Elizabeth Arden was the daughter of a Canadian farmer, and presented her products as emblems of an upper-class life of comfort. Helena Rubinstein, from Poland, “emphasized science”, promising an “exotic look.” That was “code for Jewish” according to Scott Frankel.[1]

Doug Wright noted: “Together, they not only forged an industry, but a way of life…They absolutely shattered glass ceilings as women in industry.”[2] Frankel, explaining the musical style, said: “I’m a huge fan of music from the 1930s, ‘40s, ‘50s and ’60s and, without making it a pastiche, I soaked my brain in the fluids of those periods to see what absorbed naturally.”[2]


War Paint premiered at the Goodman Theatre in Chicago in the summer of 2016. Under the direction of Michael Greif, the Chicago production began performances on June 28, 2016, officially opened on July 18, and ran through August 21, 2016.[3] [4] The production starred Patti LuPone as Rubinstein and Christine Ebersole as Arden, with John Dossett as Tommy Lewis, Arden’s husband and Douglas Sills, as Harry Fleming, Rubinstein’s confidante.[5]

The musical features scenic design by David Korins, costume design by Catherine Zuber, lighting design by Kenneth Posner, sound design by Brian Ronan, orchestrations by Bruce Coughlin, and choreography by Christopher Gattelli.

War Paint premiered on Broadway at the Nederlander Theatre on March 7, 2017 before officially opening on April 6.[6] Additional featured cast includes Dossett and Sills, reprising their roles from the Chicago production.[7]

Musical Numbers

Act I

  • “A Woman’s Face” – Helena Rubinstein, Elizabeth Arden, Society Doyenne, Grand Dame, Heiress & Countess
  • “Behind the Red Door” – Arden Girls, Society Doyenne, Grand Dame, Heiress, Countess & Elizabeth
  • “Back on Top” – Helena & Beauty Technicians
  • “Hope in a Jar” – Harry Fleming, Helena, Society Doyenne, Grand Dame, Heiress, Countess, Elizabeth, Tommy Lewis, Arden Girls & Bergdorf Goodman Customers
  • “A Working Marriage” – Elizabeth & Tommy
  • “My American Moment” – Helena & Elizabeth
  • “Step on Out” – Arden Girls, Miss Beam, Tommy & Harry
  • “If I’d Been a Man” – Elizabeth & Helena
  • “Better Yourself” – Elizabeth
  • “Oh, That’s Rich” – Tommy, Helena, Harry & Elizabeth
  • “Face to Face” – Helena & Elizabeth
Act II

  • “War Paint” – Helena, Elizabeth, Women Factory Workers, Eleanor Roosevelt, WACs & Flagbearers
  • “A Woman’s Face (Reprise)” – Countess, Society Doyenne, Heiress, Grand Dame, Young Mother & Other Branch Salon Clients
  • “Now You Know” – Helena
  • “No Thank You” – Harry, Elizabeth, Tommy, Helena & William S. Paley
  • “Fire and Ice” – Charles Revson, Dorian Leigh, Mirror Girls, Helena, Elizabeth, Harry & Tommy
  • “Face to Face (Reprise)” – Helena & Elizabeth
  • “Dinosaurs” – Tommy & Harry
  • “Pink” – Elizabeth
  • “Forever Beautiful” – Helena
  • “Beauty in the World” – Helena & Elizabeth
  • “A Woman’s Face (Reprise)” – Company



Source: Internet Broadway Database[8]

Character Chicago (2016)[9] Broadway (2017)
Helena Rubinstein Patti LuPone
Elizabeth Arden Christine Ebersole
Tommy Lewis John Dossett
Harry Fleming Douglas Sills
The Society Doyenne and others Mary Ernster
Senator Royal Copeland, William S. Paley and others David Girolmo
The Countess and others Joanna Glushak
Mr. Simms and others Chris Hoch
Miss Beam and others Mary Claire King
Dorian Leigh and others Steffanie Leigh
Charles Revson and others Erik Liberman
The Grand Dame and others Barbara Marineau
Beauty Technician and others Stephanie Jae Park
Miss Smythe and others Angel Reda
Tulip and others Leslie Donna Flesner N/A

Critical Response

In his review of the Chicago production, Peter Marks in The Washington Post praised LuPone and Ebersole and the score: “LuPone and Ebersole wrap their prodigious voices around a score by Scott Frankel and Michael Korie that rings with the kind of exhilaratingly brassy notes that match the chutzpah of their characters’ ambitions… In the twilight is where both LuPone’s and Ebersole’s performances gain their essential poignancy…” and the story line: ” ‘War Paint’ conveys with tremendous authority what it must have been like for both women to have assumed the traditionally masculine role of running a major company…”[10]


  1. ^ Jones, Chris. ” ‘War Paint’: Elizabeth Arden, Helena Rubinstein and American beauty” Chicago Tribune, June 24, 2016
  2. ^ a b Mellini, Michael. “Applying War Paint: An Acclaimed Creative Team Comes Together for the World Premiere Musical” goodmantheatre.org, May 13, 2016
  3. ^ Gans, Andrew. “Patti LuPone and Christine Ebersole Apply War Paint, Starting Tonight”, playbill.com, June 28, 2016
  4. ^ Viagas, Robert. “The Verdict: See How Critics Reviewed LuPone/Ebersole ‘War Paint’ in Chicago” Playbill, July 18, 2016
  5. ^ Gans, Andrew. ” War Paint’s Patti LuPone and Christine Ebersole Find Their Leading Men” Playbill, April 15, 2016
  6. ^ Gans, Andrew. Patti LuPone and Christine Ebersole Apply ‘War Paint’ on Broadway, Starting March 7″ Playbill, March 7, 2017
  7. ^ Viagas, Robert. “Full Cast Announced for Patti LuPone-Christine Ebersole ‘War Paint’ ” Playbill, January 2017
  8. ^War Paint Broadway” ibdb.com, retrieved March 8, 2017
  9. ^ “War Paint” goodmantheatre.org, accessed July 4, 2016
  10. ^ Marks, Peter. “Much-anticipated musical with Patti LuPone, Christine Ebersole opens in Chicago” The Washington Post, July 19, 2016

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