Michael Bierut + Jessica Helfand | Audio

S3E6: Scott Frankel + David Korins

Scott Frankel is the composer of Broadway musicals including Grey Gardens and War Paint.

David Korins, who designed the sets for War Paint, runs David Korins Design, which works on theater, concerts, television, and other productions.

War Paint is about two pioneering entrepreneurs in the makeup business, masters of marketing and packaging and advertising.

Elizabeth Arden (played by Christine Ebersole) created “a kind of Ralph Lauren, horsey, WASPy, Upper East Side patrician aesthetic,” says Frankel.

Her rival, Helena Rubenstein (played by Patti LuPone) was an immigrant from Eastern Europe. “A lot of her customers were quote exotic,” Frankel says, ”which was really a euphemism for Jewish or or something other than a kind of perfect, blond, apple-cheeked Americana look.”

Arden and Rubenstein “were really visual innovators as well as product innovators,” says Korins. A set has to express the worlds of two women who never met, but will usually be the biggest expense on any Broadway production:
That is a really difficult thing to think about at the onset of any theatrical endeavor. It's great to go blue sky, and it's great to be with collaborators where you can throw any ideas up against the wall and see what sticks. But then you always kind of have to toe that line between wildly imaginative and also fiscally responsible.

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Michael Bierut + Jessica Helfand Jessica Helfand, a founding editor of Design Observer, is an award-winning graphic designer and writer. A former contributing editor and columnist for Print, Eye and Communications Arts magazine, she is a member of Alliance Graphique Internationale and a recent laureate of the Art Director’s Hall of Fame. Jessica received both her BA and MFA from Yale University where she has taught since 1994. In 2013, she won the AIGA medal.

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