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Two dueling divas will engage in a Broadway smackdown this spring, when Patti LuPone and Christine Ebersole lock horns as rival makeup titans Helena Rubinstein and Elizabeth Arden in the new musical, War Paint.
The show and its celebrated stars — who have two Tony Awards apiece — come to New York following a sold-out Chicago tryout this summer, which drew generally positive reviews and generated record-breaking box office at the Goodman Theatre. Critics raved in particular about the two leads, who could conceivably find themselves competing for Tony honors next June.
Also reprising their roles from the Chicago world premiere are John Dossett and Douglas Sills. The show reunites the creative team of composer Scott Frankel, lyricist Michael Korie, book writer Doug Wright and director Michael Greif, who worked together on Grey Gardens, which earned Ebersole her second lead actress Tony in 2007. Her first was for 42nd Street in 2001.
LuPone won her first lead actress Tony in 1980 for Evita and her second 28 years later in 2008 for Gypsy.
Inspired by Lindy Woodhead’s book of the same name and by the documentary The Powder & the Glory by Ann Carol Grossman and Arnie Reisman, War Paint traces the parallel paths of two innovative women who worked their way up from humble roots to define beauty standards in the first half of the 20th century. Fierce competitors, they became the country’s first major female entrepreneurs and built international empires in a business world dominated by men.
Beginning previews March 7 at the Nederlander Theatre for an April 6 opening, the show will be produced by David Stone and Marc Platt, whose blockbuster Wicked is one of the most lucrative properties in Broadway history.
“When a new musical comes to Broadway starring a musical theater legend, it is newsworthy; when it arrives starring two legends, it is an event,” Stone said Thursday in a statement, indicating that revisions are being made to the show based on feedback in Chicago. “The artistry, vocal virtuosity, and raw star power that Patti LuPone and Christine Ebersole bring to their performances in War Paint thrilled both audiences and critics during our out-of-town run this summer. The engagement was a sensation.”
Additional casting is to be announced for the production, which will feature choreography by Christopher Gattelli, set design by David Korins, costumes by Catherine Zuber, lighting by Kenneth Posner, sound by Brian Ronan, orchestrations by Bruce Coughlin and music direction by Lawrence Yurman.
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