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The Beauty Of War Paint
In the world-premiere musical, two two-time Tony Award-winners tell the story about two cosmetics giants
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   THE names Helena Rubinstein and Elizabeth Arden are synonymous with the beauty industry, an industry in which both women defined beauty standards for the first half of the 20th century while becoming icons in an arena that was dominated by men.
   Tough, self-made women, Rubinstein and Arden were fiercely competitive, creating a 50-year rivalry that was instrumental in dramatically shaping the industry while, at the same time, catapulting them to the level of the country’s first major female entrepreneurs. 
   In the world-premiere musical, War Paint, at the Goodman Theatre from June 28 through August 14, two-time Tony Award-winners Patti LuPone and Christine Ebersole portray the brilliantly innovative women who came into their own from the ‘30s to the ‘60s and put their signatures on the business of beauty. “We are proud to produce the world premiere of War Paint, a bold and exciting new musical about two fearless women who broke new ground in luxury," says Robert Falls, artistic director at the Goodman. “It’s particularly thrilling to collaborate with this enormously talented creative team . . . and I’m delighted to welcome these artists to the Goodman and Chicago.”
   In the musical, LuPone––a two-time Grammy Award-winner and a recipient of Tony Awards for appearances in Gypsy and Evita––is cast as Rubinstein, who built a global cosmetics empire after starting her career in Australia distributing a beauty cream that her mother had used. In 1908, her business expansion began in London before spreading to Paris, New York, San Francisco, Boston, Philadelphia, Chicago and Toronto. Eventually, her products were sold in department stores. It was in New York where the legendary and heated rivalry with Arden (and Charles Revson, founder of Revlon) began and intensified.
   Arden is portrayed by Ebersole, a multitalented entertainer who has received Tony Awards for roles in 42nd Street and Grey Gardens. In taking on that role, the Winnetka-raised actress will showcase the life of the woman who opened her first spa on Fifth Avenue and began to create one of the world’s most recognized beauty brands. Sometimes lost in the midst of business activities is the fact that Arden was an advocate for women’s rights, and she became internationally famous for her holistic approach to beauty, encouraging women––as early as the 1920s––to hydrate, avoid the sun and practice yoga daily.
   The Goodman production 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 design team includes David Korins (set design), Catherine Zuber (costume design), Kenneth Posner (lighting design) and Brian Ronan (sound design), as well as Bruce Coughlin (orchestrations) and Lawrence Yurman (music director). Michael Greif will direct the production.
   “To be honest, I didn’t really know their [Rubinstein and Arden] story. I knew who they were, but I didn’t really know it was that deeply rooted in this competitive nature and the means that they would go,” says Christopher Gattelli, the show’s choreographer. “Gosh, Patti and Christine, it couldn’t be more exciting to see these women on stage doing a show like this. It’s kind of an unbelievable event.”
   War Paint tells the incredible and compelling story of two determined and pioneering cosmetics titans who, despite the obstacles, built international empires that changed the lives of women around the world. Their insight and input brought new meaning to glamor and beauty.  
   “War Paint is a big, bold new musical,” says composer Scott Frankel. “It’s funny, it’s poignant, it examines the role of fiendishly successful women in a men’s world, and it does so with humor, intelligence and insights. It’s a roller coaster ride.”
Tony Award-winners Patti LuPone and Christine Ebersole will portray legendary entrepreneurs Helena Rubinstein and Elizabeth Arden in War Paint
​Cosmetics legends Helena Rubinstein (left) and Elizabeth Arden were involved in an intense rivalry that existed for 50 years. Arden opened the country's first day spa in 1920 (her Main Chance Spa is shown below in 1934), and Rubinstein invented the world's first waterproof mascara in 1939 and the first modern mascara in 1958.
For tickets, call 312.443.3800 or visit GoodmanTheatre.org/WarPaint. Group savings are available for parties of 15 or more; call 312.443.3820 or email Groups@GoodmanTheatre.org. Special performances include Open-Captioned on July 30 at 2 p.m.; an ASL-Interpreted on August 4 at 7:30 p.m. and Audio-Described on August 6 at 2 p.m.