What to expect from a musical about Andy Warhol, the late 20th century pop art genius who smashed convention and provided a nest for self-proclaimed misfits to help him create wild non-conformist art? His shooting by self-proclaimed revolutionary feminist Valerie Solanas seems like it would make excellent fodder – after all, when Warhol Superstar Viva heard the first shot fired from over the phone, she “thinks it is somebody cracking a whip left over from the Velvet Underground days.”
Possibly the best way to enjoy POP! is to get bombed on your poison of choice, doll up in some outrageous outfits, and loll on the front row cushions like denizens of Warhol’s famous Factory. Everything is a little too clean in this staging at The Studio 2nd Stage, and it needs some chaos. Perhaps it’s up to the audience to provide it, because the book and lyrics by Maggie-Kate Coleman get too lost in its construct of a “murder mystery” party. Though there are key moments that speak to Warhol’s power over his Superstars, his feeding off their craving for attention and love while maintaining his voyeurism, this musical could’ve used a hell of a lot more anarchy.
That’s not to say that there isn’t a lot of talent on display. The cast’s singing is spectacular, so strong they blow out their mikes occasionally. They’re effectively competing for your sympathy just as the real Warhol Superstars might have done had you wondered into their lair. It’s especially fitting that in a musical about a man who preferred to put others in the spotlight, it’s Candy Darling (Matthew Delorenzo) who reigns supreme here in a striking performance of glitter and pathos. As the emcee of the evening, guiding us through the “mystery” of who shot Warhol on June 3, 1968, Delorenzo is simply incandescent.
But Anna K. Jacobs’ score struck me as all wrong – don’t expect any nods to Warhol cohorts Nico or Lou Reed. Velvet Underground this isn’t. Continue reading