Theater Review: Pop! at the Firehouse Theatre is Worth the Standing Ovation
Photos credit Bill Sigafoos
With exciting musical numbers, witty jokes and dark mystery, Pop! Who Shot Andy Warhol brought the Firehouse Theatre audience into the mind of the enigmatic Andy Warhol and the glittery world of The Factory, sweeping everyone off their feet.
The musical opens with Warhol, played by John Mincks, inside his beloved Factory singing about the wonderful uses of an empty paper bag, which had the audience chuckling. Colorful characters then filled the stage to perform “Pop! Who Shot Andy Warhol”, taking everyone back to the New York art scene of the 1960′s.
With the unique challenge of taking the part of actual people, the actors and actresses of Pop! embodied the characteristics of the Warhol Superstars down to a tee. Staying true to the times, the mature themes begin with detectives smoking a joint on the likeness of The Factory’s prized red couch. I was never sure how close the musical stayed to the time period, but whenever those real or fake marijuana cigarettes were lit, a curious smell filled the air.
Transsexual Candy Darling, played by Ian Stearns, hosts the mystery and nearly steals the show. The makeup and costume design for Candy was on point, and even my mom commented on how nice his legs looked. Raunchy jokes about sex, drugs, feminism and racist stereotypes were thrown left and right leaving some members of the audience nearly crying.
Making the most of a small stage, the characters leaped and shimmied around while singing their hearts out. The musical also cleverly pointed out the historical rift Andy Warhol created within the art scene, with a humorous fight between pop artists and famed expressionists. By the end of the first act, Andy Warhol pushed for art and creativity while leaving the Warhol superstars in the background, making everyone a suspect.
After the 15-minute intermission, the musical took a darker turn. A character of few words, Warhol was forced to witness his own funeral and examine his past life. The Warhol Superstars were seeing the end of their 15-minutes of fame and desperate for more time. Confronting Warhol, the Superstars question his gifts of empty paper bags but his response “nothing is something” is too much for the stars to comprehend. Everyone wants to be something, and nothing is meaningless. As the tensions build, the ultra-feminist Valerie turns to Warhol and spits out something along the lines of, “I am going to pick up something from the Fuck You store, and you better be here when I get back.” Revealing herself as the true “Big Gun” around town, Valerie shows Warhol and the audience that she is more than nothing, and cannot be used for Warhol’s amusement.
Ending with a bang, Pop! received a standing ovation, and proved to me that a little piece of Broadway can be found right in Richmond.
Pop! is scheduled to run until August 10, 2013 at the Firehouse Theatre located at 1609 West Broad Street, Richmond Virginia 23220. Tickets range from $15-32 and are available through Firehousetheatre.org.
Maya Earls and is a second-year journalism student at Virginia Commonwealth University. She was born in Los Angeles, and moved to Richmond in 2000. Her first journalism experience was managing social media for the Rock4Life benefit concert.She enjoys exploring Richmond on her bike and finding good views of the river. Her favorite past-time is watching people dance in their cars from her apartment window.
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Warhol himself witnessed first-hand both the blossoming of the gay community in the 1970s and the beginnings of the AIDS epidemic that battered the community in the 1980s.June 16, 2015
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