Sunday, July 28, 2013

15 Minutes of Fame

I'm feeling really lucky about all the art history-themed theater in town lately.

First there was "Red" about Mark Rothko and now there's "Pop" about Andy Warhol, being produced only for the fourth time, playing at Firehouse.

My only disappointment with the performance was not taking a front-row seat when it was offered because the play began with Warhol taking a Polaroid of the woman sitting in front of me, in the seat I turned down.


Once I got over my error in judgement, I was dazzled by the circa 1968 costumes of Edie Sedgwick and Viva, two of Warhol's hangers-on and film subjects.

Much as I loved Viva's glammy, bell-bottomed jumpsuit, if it were 1968, I'd have to go with Edie's leopard mini to better show off the legs.

The play was narrated by the lovely (and formerly male) Candy Darling, star of many Warhol films, who won audience hearts with lines like, "It was a dark and stormy night and we were all at Andy's factory. It was the place to be when we had no one better to do."

Andy kept Viva around because of her intelligence, a fact she came to resent. "When you talk smart during all the sex, it's not dirty, it's art."

And there you have the basis of any Warhol film.

One of the most hysterical scenes, at least to this art history geek, was when a trio of abstract expressionists, Pollak, Kline and Motherwell, showed up as suspects in the shooting.

Warhol  brilliantly puts them in their place, infuriating them by saying, "I'm such a fan of your work. It looks so easy and fun!"

I don't know if non-artsy types see how hilarious that is, but I laughed long and hard.

During intermission, the bar was serving mimosas ('cause it's Sunday!) and the play's signature drink, the Factory Fizz, which director Jase Smith had promised us before the show would make the second act even more fun.

Even sans drink, I had lots of fun during the second act, especially when Mrs. Warhol sang a eulogy for her "dead" son while he watched unhappily from the casket.

The showstopper was "Big Gun" about Valerie Solanas' anger at Warhol for losing her script of "Up Your Ass," the play she'd been hoping he would produce for her.

With Viva and Edie in opera-length white gloves singing back-up, Audra Honaker as Valerie nailed it as the angry feminist who'd written the SCUM Manifesto (Society for Cutting Up Men) and had a slight problem with all men.

Audra was the standout (even her dancing impressed), but the entire cast was strong, with Warhol's assistants (also playing hapless NYPD cops), Gerard and Ondine, especially strong on physical comedy, drug humor and dancing over people and couches.

And how can you not love a musical with a song called, "Untitled Brawl No. 1"?

Today's matinee was a pay-what-you-will performance and after a highly entertaining afternoon of art history with terrific singing and dancing, I'm not sure I paid nearly enough.

But then, I'm not sure I can afford to pay what it was worth.

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