(Hedy Weiss’s article appeared in the Chicago Sun-Times, 7/18.)
There has been much chatter recently about the lack of leading roles for women in Broadway musicals. Yet for every Sweeney Todd, Phantom and Hamilton there also has been a Mama Rose, an Evita, a Carole King and the Big and Little Edies of “Grey Gardens” fame.
Now, with “War Paint,” the world premiere musical at the Goodman Theatre about the rivalry between mid-20th century cosmetics moguls Helena Rubinstein and Elizabeth Arden, two terrific female roles have been added to the canon courtesy of the “Grey Gardens” team. And putting their indelible lipstick marks on these titans of face creams and other beauty potions are Patti LuPone and Christine Ebersole, a pair of Broadway divas uncannily suited to their characters: fierce rivals who turn out to be two faces of the same coin engaged in a “civil war” that raged from the 1930s through the early 1960s.