War Paint, the new Broadway musical that tells the story of cosmetic company entrepreneurs and rivals Helena Rubinstein (Patti LuPone) and Elizabeth Arden (Christine Ebersole), is scheduled to end its nine month, 300 performance run on December 30. It played a sold-out run in Chicago in the summer of 2016 and began previews at the Nederlander Theatre on March 7 with an opening night of April 6.
The show is based on a 2004 dual biography by Lindy Woodhead of the same name, and was directed by Michael Greif (Grey Gardens, Next to Normal) with songwriting by Scott Frankel and Michael Korie—the team behind Grey Gardens and Far From Heaven, and Tony Award- and Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Doug Wright (Grey Gardens, I Am My Own Wife, The Little Mermaid). Choreography is by Tony Award winner Christopher Gattelli.
According to production notes, War Paint, “tells the remarkable story of cosmetics titans Helena Rubinstein (LuPone) and Elizabeth Arden (Ebersole), who defined beauty standards for the first half of the 20th Century…They were also fierce competitors, whose 50-year tug-of-war would give birth to an industry that would forever change the face of America. From Fifth Avenue society to the halls of Congress, their intense rivalry was ruthless, relentless and legendary—pushing both women to build international empires in a world dominated by men.”
In a review for The New York Times, Ben Brantley said of the show that “[Ms. LuPone and Ms. Ebersole are] strategically deploying the knowledge and craft of a combined eight decades in musicals to make us believe that the show in which they appear is moving forward, instead of running in place in high heels.” The star appeal of the show’s leading ladies brought in a strong debut, seeing several million-plus weeks, but numbers have since slowed. Last week the show grossed about $615,000 and played to 85% capacity.
Patti LuPone and Christine Ebersole both received Tony nominations for their roles, as did the show for Best Costumes and Best Scenic Design.
It can be assumed that the announcement of the show’s closing three months in advance is a last-ditch attempt at a sales spike. Despite the robust initial numbers and potential pre-close boost, the show is not likely to recoup its capitalization of $11 million.
The musical will go on a pre-scheduled one-week hiatus from September 26 – October 1. Catch War Paint on Broadway during its final run between October 3 – December 30.