After a sell-out seasons in London and Sydney, John Misto’s comedy Lip Service, a play about the life and times of Melbourne entrepreneur Helena Rubinstein, comes to her home town from 11 July at The Lawler Theatre.

Misto brings two legendary entrepreneurs to life on stage with Amanda Muggleton as Rubinstein and Linden Wilkinson as Elizabeth Arden, her fierce competitor in the cosmetics industry. Septimus Caton plays Rubinstein’s minder.

Muggleton and Wilkinson return to the roles that brought them acclaim in the Australian premiere of Lip Service in Sydney at the Ensemble Theatre, a play critics applauded for its sharp humour and wit in many rave reviews.

In this hilarious new play, Misto writes of an imagined relationship between an elderly Rubinstein and Arden in 1950s and 1960s Manhattan, New York, where they battled for supremacy in the global beauty market they pioneered.

Reluctantly they are brought together to combat the threat of a new player on the scene, Charles Revson of Revlon cosmetics.

Based on her true story, Lip Service sees Rubinstein at the end of a business career that began in country Victoria before she opened her first glamorous beauty salon, Salon de Beauté Valaze, in Melbourne’s stylish Collins Street.

When she emigrated from Poland to Australia in 1902, Rubinstein settled in the west Victorian town of Coleraine with her shopkeeper uncles.

Rubinstein had no money and little English but she cashed in on her Polish mother’s recipe for face cream by sourcing local lanolin from the sheep grazing district in which she found herself living. She sold jars of her popular beauty product to local women and devised plans to build her business in the city.

From humble beginnings as a Polish-Jewish immigrant to Australia to the owner of a billion-dollar empire based in New York, Lip Service is the story behind one of the best-known names in the world of beauty. There are other women who inherited their wealth, but Helena did it herself in a male dominated world.

July 11 – 28