Only in a musical about two cosmetics titans would a character deliver a torch song to a color. War Paint, now on Broadway, follows the rivalry between beauty tycoons Helena Rubinstein (Patti LuPone), a Polish immigrant, and Elizabeth Arden (Christine Ebersole), an Ontario farm girl turned Manhattan socialite. Late in the second act, as mass-market companies start to take over the makeup scene and push the old guard out, Arden attempts to stay solvent by signing away both her name and her signature color — the pink that graces all her packaging. In this solo, a lovely and complex highlight of the show, Arden reflects on the shade that will literally follow her to her grave. The War Paint cast album comes out via Ghostlight Records on Friday, May 26.
One of many necklaces in War Paint. Photo: Joan Marcus