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How Hillary Clinton Ended Up at the Broadway Opening of ‘War Paint’

Variety logo Variety 4/7/2017 Gordon Cox
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Hillary Clinton is a Broadway regular these days — but it felt particularly symbolic to see her at the opening night of the musical “War Paint,” the musical about two trailblazing businesswomen, Elizabeth Arden and Helena Rubinstein, whose careers cracked the glass ceiling.

A longtime theatergoer, Clinton has been spotted recently at shows including “The Color Purple,” “In Transit” and “Sunset Boulevard,” among others, but “War Paint” marked her first Broadway opening. As with those previous production, Clinton was there because she knew someone involved — in this case an investor, who invited her to the opening.

“I couldn’t think of a more perfect opening night gift,” gushed David Stone, the “Wicked” and “Next to Normal” producer who leads a “War Paint” team that also includes Marc Platt (“La La Land,” “Wicked”), among several others. The audience gave Clinton a standing ovation as she took her seat, and did it again when she made her way backstage to congratulate the cast and creatives.

“There’s a song that I sing in the show, ‘Now You Know,’ ” said LuPone after the opening night performance on April 6. “There’s a line in it that goes, ‘A woman scales the wall / Climbs high above them all/ And oh what gates of hell they put her through.’ I’ve always thought about Hillary on that line.

“I think she saw how much ‘War Paint’ is about women and power,” she continued. “I don’t think all that much has changed for women.”

The show depicts the ways in which Arden and Rubinstein, whose businesses shaped the cosmetics industry, still had to contend with sexism and misogyny despite their successes. The two women were such fierce rivals that, in real life, they never met.

But there’s no such cold war going on between Ebersole and LuPone. “No no,” Ebersole laughed. “We’re not method like that!”

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