New York | 2h 35m | Already closed

War Paint

From 72 critic and 1,314 member reviews
Members say: Great singing, Entertaining, Great acting, Disappointing, Slow

About the show

Two-time Tony Award winners Patti LuPone and Christine Ebersole come to Broadway in this new musical about rival cosmetic titans Helena Rubinstein and Elizabeth Arden. More…

Brilliant innovators with humble roots, both women were masters of self-invention who sacrificed everything to become the country's first major female entrepreneurs. They were also fierce competitors whose 50-year tug-of-war would give birth to an industry. From Fifth Avenue society to the halls of Congress, their remarkable rivalry was ruthless, relentless, and legendary—pushing both women to build international empires in a world dominated by men. Costarring Tony nominees John Dossett and Douglas Sills, and directed by Tony nominee Michael Greif.

2h 35m | Already closed | Nederlander Theatre (Midtown W)


"A show with one musical theater legend is rare these days but with both Patti LuPone and Christine Ebersole you are offered two of the great ladies of the American musical on the same stage at the top of their form. Sophisticated, chic and elegant, 'War Paint' is an absorbing and magnificent story of two remarkable women who climbed their way to the top of their profession only to find that there were still things they could not accomplish." Full Review

This Week in New York Blog

"This knockout Broadway musical pits not only fashion doyenne Helena Rubinstein against Elizabeth Arden but divas Patti LuPone against Christine Ebersole. And everyone wins, especially the audience...The book does an excellent job of condensing the story...The music and lyrics are fanciful and exhilarating, propelling the story while allowing the stars to shine, and shine they do; LuPone, Ebersole, Dossett, and Sills are the fiercest foursome on Broadway today." Full Review

The Hollywood Reporter

"The marquee draw is the dynamite pairing of Patti LuPone and Christine Ebersole, Broadway's finest, in richly distinctive roles that play to their respective strengths...Their contrasting turns here are simply mesmerizing...Despite its relatively low-key dramatic engine, this is a smart, sophisticated exploration of two uncompromising...Some no doubt will find the show lacking in dramatic momentum or explosive conflicts. I found it thoroughly compelling and masterfully entertaining throughout." Full Review

Cultural Weekly

“Tremendously satisfying…Wright offers a fascinating history of 20th century fashion and make-up as well as an insightful character study, directed with speed and style by Michael Greif…The score is sharp, funny, and intricate, employing the musical vocabulary of its various eras to convey rapid changes and emotional depths…LuPone and Ebersole command the stage separately but equally…John Dossett and Douglas Sills offer sturdy support as their right-hand men.” Full Review

Theater Pizzazz

"Extraordinary performers with extraordinary presence and voices...LuPone fulfills every aspect of the bitter and driven Rubinstein...She also has an overflowing share of laugh lines...What’s compelling is the character-driven plot giving insight into the lives of two unusual women who created empires at a time when it was unfashionable and unacceptable – the chosen twosome are unparalleled in talent and star power. They are more than electrified under Michael Greif’s direction." Full Review


“It was a thrill to enjoy this gem of an original musical. I am not saying it’s perfect, but for an audience that can remember the wonderful musicals of the 1950s and 1960s, this is as close as you can get to such wonderful heights. With a witty book by Doug Wright, an excellent melodic score by Scott Frankel and Michael Korie, and deft direction by Michael Greif, they have created a highly entertaining musical.” Full Review

The Stage (UK)

"The production becomes a spellbinding study in the competition of wills...Michael Greif’s production is a multi-layered, extraordinarily textured story...Written by a team of three gay men, the show is sometimes camp in tone – there are lots of stinging one-liners – but it is affecting and resonant about the pursuit of looks and love. Scott Frankel and Michael Korie's score has a series of soaring numbers of near operatic power for the women." Full Review


"A confident, unapologetically old-style musical, whose main accomplishment rests not in merely giving two fabulous Broadway divas a chance to belt their faces off, but also in making real people out of these two icons, and in giving heartfelt expression to their struggles...LuPone has never been funnier, but the performance never feels like it’s too much. Ebersole has never sounded sweeter...Wright’s dialogue is priceless." Full Review

Entertainment Weekly

"Ebersole and LuPone are nothing short of flawless...Add a heaping pile of beauty, glamour and lush costumes to the mix, and you have yourself a juicy — albeit highly elegant — drama...The music is strong but not particularly memorable...But the lyrics are impactful...While Act 2 slows a tad the show is overall well-paced, due in part to the quippy one-liners that could easily be on the packaging of a compact...'War Paint' isn’t perfect, but it’s a thing of beauty for sure." Full Review

Front Mezz Junkies

"Both of these stars are winning a different type of theatrical war than the one being chronicled in this touching big-number filled musical…‘War Paint’ fails to rise above the pedestrian, doing justice to this interesting story, but unable to rise the whole piece as high as some of the notes being sung…Every moment sounds lovely and we are totally engaged, but the songs don’t vary enough from each other overall…Just try to defy these two Tony winning stars their stupendous power." Full Review

The Wrap

"How rare it is to see two great female performances in one season, much less one musical. The 'War Paint' book is also a marvel...Director Michael Greif not only juggles with aplomb these four lead characters and a featured one, but the Depression, World War II, the advent of TV, and the counterculture. It’s quite a story, and one well told...These songwriters are good at the reflective...If only they could be a little brassier now and then." Full Review


"Hearing these extraordinary women at the top of their game in duets that contrast and blend and play off one another’s unique theatrical instincts is a thrill, and would be even without a chic and thoughtful show around them. 'War Paint' may not be one of the great musicals, but it is an enormously satisfying one...The show, sleekly and compassionately directed by Michael Greif, looks at American women from 1934 to 1964 through a new lens." Full Review


"A smart portrayal of the obstacles faced by a pair of America's earliest female entrepreneurs...Benefits foremost from the remarkable symmetry between its leads...The score is tuneful and catchy, winding up to a pair of bittersweet releases for the stars...Good God, the women’s voices are in astounding condition...Their meeting is something of a misty-eyed anticlimax...'War Paint,' mostly, is bliss and makeup." Full Review

Musical Theater Review

“It begins to feel like you’re watching an interlocking double feature of strangely alike by-the-number biopics…The score also gives LuPone plenty of opportunities to show off her distinctive entwining of the Broadway belt, while Ebersole’s numbers are embroidered with filigrees of lovely high notes…You’ll hardly feel that you’ve wasted your money on some totally useless product. It’s well-packaged with some formidable ingredients." Full Review

The Washington Post

"Two Broadway stars more thrillingly suited to embodying this historic rivalry would be hard to come up with...It’s an edifying musical rather than an exciting one, certainly worth any theatergoer’s time...Greif has overseen with great sophistication the staging and styling...The musical’s worthiest achievements: making room on a stage, to a degree virtually never seen, for star turns by two sublime female veterans of the musical theater." Full Review

Out Magazine

“Something the queers should flock to…The show is lavish and well designed…The two leads deliver, Ebersole emanating control and singing beautifully, knocking out her terrific 11 o’clock self-doubt number, ‘Pink.’ As Rubinstein, LuPone employs a thick accent, making her first song hard to decipher. She is also directed to overly lean on some of the joke lines she’s been given. But she’s in top vocal form, and when the two ladies are warring it up, this is gay heaven.” Full Review

Village Voice

"'War Paint' may not be this year's best musical, but it's a highly entertaining, inventive, and informative show...The substance seems solidly, sagaciously traditional. Lyricist Korie and composer Frankel rarely transcend the conventional show-music idiom, but they work fluently and intelligently within it, while Wright's pungent, pointed book skillfully encapsulates its many topics without ever running aground. Greif's direction pulls everything together with expectable smoothness." Full Review

Drama Queen NYC

"Some of Broadway’s most solid craftsmen worked on 'War Paint,' and it shows. Most of the team previously worked on 'Grey Gardens,' and while this isn’t up to the caliber of that show, it’s still pretty darn good...The songs for Ebersole and LuPone go beyond intelligently painting the personalities of the two main characters – they are as exquisitely tailored for their talents...It’s very well-crafted, but not perfect...'War Paint' is smart and marvelously stylish entertainment." Full Review


"Luckily, there’s not much plot to distract from these carefully nuanced characters, their amazing careers and dazzling wardrobes...The music feels right for both the individual characters and the progressive time frames. The lyrics suit the characters and serve the plot. And the book is smart and literate...While much is made of their fierce competitive practices, there’s little at stake here, aside from the loyalties of their male partners." Full Review

Broadway News

"LuPone and Ebersole, giving performances of such resplendent force, wit and vivacity that the evening gleams like a freshly applied coat of nail polish...Enhanced by a sumptuous production directed by Greif...A nagging flaw in the show’s conception: the central narrative is largely undramatic, at times even superficial...When you have the opportunity to watch actors of this caliber, it’s easy to overlook many a superficial flaw, sit back and simply bask." Full Review

AM New York

"The musical is built around an unwieldy and repetitive Ping-Pong structure of shifting back and forth between the two characters...However, 'War Paint' still has a lot going for it, including self-empowered protagonists, high-powered performances, well-crafted period-style songs, the classy aura of old-school New York and the smooth direction of Michael Greif." Full Review

Wolf Entertainment Guide

"The music by Scott Frankel and lyrics by Michael Korie work best when sung by the stars, and director Michael Greif has worked hard to keep up a pace in a show that seems over-extended...However, there is no getting away from the fact that watching LuPone and Ebersole is the main reason for seeing 'War Paint,' and the stars who reign do not disappoint, even in a show with a strained book and less than glorious music." Full Review

Chicago Tribune

"Very classy and elegant new Broadway musical...Deceptively complex direction of Michael Greif...The show ultimately demurs when it comes to holding the great titans of makeup, and the men who surrounded them, to moral account. And that is what might just have made 'War Paint' a truly great musical, instead of a highly entertaining and provocative one...A tad too admiring of its subjects for its own good." Full Review

Reflections in the Light

"Frankel's score sounds as though it were written just for them offering many showcase numbers (perhaps a few too many in the two-hour, 35-minute production) with soaring belts for the actresses to show off what they can do. Ebersole, particularly, shines...Adding to the quality of the production, getting a fine treatment from director Michael Greif, are creamy supporting performances." Full Review

The Observer

"You will be charged, thrilled and fascinated by two divas dishing it out with every trick in their careers of sharp, dagger-edged perfection as they command and hold the stage...There are songs galore but few of them will live in your heart after the final curtain. Blander than I expected and oddly lacking in rhapsodic melodies...The tunes in 'War Paint' do inspire you to go away humming. This does not, I must add, detract from the mega-watt voltage from the two divas onstage." Full Review

Great acting, Entertaining, Must see

See it if although closed, this was a rare chance to see two icons at their best!

Don't see it if too bad it is already closed

Intense, Riveting, Masterful

See it if You love a show about powerful women and big business.

Don't see it if You don't like a more serious play about powerful women.

Clever, Great singing, Great acting, Intelligent, Funny

See it if you love classic musicals and the greats, Patti and Christine!

Don't see it if you want more dialogue and less singing and dancing.

Ambitious, Entertaining, Great singing, Great acting, Must see

See it if You love Broadway divas Patti LuPone and Christine Ebersole and want to see them onstage together

Don't see it if You don't like Broadway divas

Must see, Great acting, Funny, Enchanting, Absorbing

See it if You love Patty LuPone & Christine Ebersole & like to hear untold stories. If you are a fan of girl power & history.

Don't see it if Not into musicals or makeup.

Entertaining, Great acting, Thought-provoking

See it if Patti Lupone & Christine Ebersole. I don't have to say more.

Don't see it if You want mindless entertainment. Because this show is anything but.

Absorbing, Delightful, Exquisite, Funny, Great acting

See it if You want to see two legends on stage

Don't see it if You don't like musicals

Absorbing, Entertaining, Exquisite, Great singing, Great staging

See it if You are a fan of two powerhouses, Christine Ebersole and Patti Lupone. You are interested in the history of the cosmetics industry.

Don't see it if See it !

Absorbing, Clever, Funny, Masterful, Must see

See it if You love a good Broadway show and Broadway legend Patti LuPone

Don't see it if You will use your phone in the theatre.


See it if love musical. must see!

Don't see it if u hate musical.

Clever, Delightful, Enchanting, Entertaining, Exquisite

See it if If you love broadway legends Patti Lupone and Christine Ebersole. This is the first time I saw them both on broadway and they were fabulous

Don't see it if I definitely would recommend this play to anyone. Go see it!

Entertaining, Exquisite, Great acting, Delightful, Enchanting

See it if you want to see fabulous stars, wonderful script, gorgeous costumes, history of 2 women who made women beautiful with makeup

Don't see it if you do not want to love a bygone era

Absorbing, Delightful, Entertaining, Must see, Riveting

See it if Like stories based on fact

Don't see it if don't like strong female leads

Exquisite, Great singing, Great acting, Masterful, Must see

See it if You love Patti Lupone and Christine Ebersole. The are extraordinary. You're interested in makeup and musicals (two of my favorite things)

Don't see it if Yeah, I got nothing here

Entertaining, Funny, Great acting, Great singing, Great staging

See it if You enjoy listening to icons of Broadway

Don't see it if Musicals are not your choice

Absorbing, Enchanting, Great acting, Great singing, Great staging

See it if you enjoys shows about female empowerment. Based on a true story told by brilliant acting and a terrific score. Powerful story and staging

Don't see it if You're not interested in the rise of strong women in business. You're looking for a massive spectacle on stage.

Clever, Entertaining, Great staging, Great singing

See it if Both leads are at there best. Use of staging, lights and costumes are fabulous!

Don't see it if If you have a problem with accents. Patty speaks,sings with a heavy Polish accent.

Entertaining, Great singing, Great acting

See it if enjoy seeing an unforgettable performance by two inimitable Broadway stars.

Don't see it if don't want to see a story about women in the cosmetic industry that has great acting and singing.

Absorbing, Great singing, Great acting

See it if you love powerhouse Broadway legends at their finest. Patti unexpectedly hilarious and Christine is perfect. Songstresses do not disappoint.

Don't see it if you want big dance numbers and upbeat catchy tunes. But story is absorbing and set is beautiful, to go along with fantastic talent! Loved it

Entertaining, Great singing, Great acting, Hilarious

See it if Love seeing Patty. My daughter is in theatre and she was in all with both Patty and Christine.

Don't see it if If you don't enjoy a great musical.

Absorbing, Ambitious, Thought-provoking, Relevant, Resonant

See it if You want a musical for adults that isn't all flash but really tells a story through wonderful music

Don't see it if you expect flashy production numbers and escapism

Ambitious, Entertaining, Great acting, Great singing, Great writing

See it if Like old fashioned style musicals with absolutely incredible groundbreaking performances

Don't see it if Don't like strong women!

Also Read my full review here: Read more Read less

Ambitious, Exquisite, Great singing, Intelligent, Masterful

See it if you're looking for a show about strong women overcoming every obstacle put in their way with style, grace, and unwavering ambition.

Don't see it if you are looking for a more modern style of musical.

Thought-provoking, Riveting, Intense, Profound, Great singing

See it if I loved it because of the music and the storyline, which was based on the true stories of 2 women cosmetic giants that were in competition.

Don't see it if you don't want to know about the cosmetic industry and all the wheeling and dealing that does on behind the scenes.

Absorbing, Great acting, Great writing

See it if you like female leads.

Don't see it if don't like pink.

Cast & Creatives (29)