War Paint, Reviewed by David Richardson, Theater Critic

Apr 17, 2017

I love to see and hear Patti Lupone (although without the unintelligible German accent she used the other night) and the always on top of her game Christine Ebersole, but was it necessary to have them in a Broadway musical with little plot and performing songs you will never care about. So here they are in something called War Paint which at least is close to being a real Broadway musical and not one of those pocketbook musicals which have no sets or props which have been cropping up way too often.

War Paint is essentially, and only, about Helena Rubinstein (Patti) and Elizabeth Arden (Christine) and how they competitively fought each other over the years until Mr. Revson (that’s Revlon to you) sort of put an end to their run as the queens of the cosmetics business. There are no blows delivered but the word sparring at times gets pretty nasty.

Also along for the battle are their managers John Dossett and Douglas Sills, who I haven’t seen since The Scarlet Pimpernel, who both bring a little levity to the proceedings and even sing a song or two. The rest of the cast have to be exhausted. This ensemble composed of what looks to be 24 dancing mannequins but in fact are probably only 6. Just changing the terrific costumes must have worn them out but they can dance and sing too. A superb group!

To be honest, I might rather have seen Patti and Christine in a two woman concert at Town Hall where we could enjoy hearing some songs we would recognize, but at least they are both here to provide us with a great night out. If you are so inclined, put on your hair pins and get on over to the Nederlander Theater but you gentlemen out there might as well stick with baseball on TV.