War Paint is a musical fresh off its Broadway run ( where it starred Patti Lupone and Christine Ebersole) coming to the Kalamazoo Civic in a new production led by artist director Tony Humrichouser May 3-19. It will be the regional premiere of this jazzy, true-life show about the rivalry between two self-made women: cosmetic titans Elizabeth Arden and Helena Rubinstein, who battled for domination of the global makeup market from the 1920-60s.
In a conversation with Humrichouser, actress Gina Chimner (Elizabeth Arden), and marketing director Janet Gover, the extraordinary details of Arden and Rubinstein's careers and personal lives are revealed. One small example: when Arden first introduced her clients to mascara, Rubinstein upped the ante by inventing the mascara wand. Both women feared losing control of their companies to their right-hand men - and ended up losing the men to each other's companies.
Music and lyrics are by Grey Gardens team Scott Frankel and Michael Korie. Humrichouser says War Paint will feature the debut of new technology at the Civic - a "Cyc," or digital cyclorama, which projects detailed backgrounds onto a rear screen. Looking ahead, Humrichouser and Gover preview the shows the Civic will present in season 91, starting with Matilda next September.