By Marlene S. Gaylinn

“POP!” at Yale Repertory Theatre is about Andy Warhol and his flock of eccentric hanger-ons who gathered at the artist’s studio called “The Factory” on Union Square, NYC.

This World Premiere with book and lyrics by Maggie-Kate Coleman, music by Anna K. Jacobs and directed by Mark Brokaw is a highly innovative, artistic re-creation of this factory scene which was also a drug-ridden world in itself during the ‘60’s.   Here, famous personalities and various street people who gained admission from Warhol’s gate keepers, were free to act-out impulsively, in a dream-like stupor while Andy, sitting on his favorite red sofa, cultivated an air of passivity (perhaps gloated with inner amusement) at his courtiers’ wild antics in order to gain his attention.  If the mood stuck him, Warhol would film whatever was going on, leaving folks to wonder actually who was being exploited.  This fine line got him into trouble when a hopeful playwright and anti-male activist, Valerie Solanas shot him because he casually lost a manuscript she had given him to read.  He never fully recovered from the shock although he died several years later.  This one-act production in the form of a “who dun nit?” and “why?” (could have been any of several characters who had good motivations)  appears to be a reflection in Warhol’s mind after he was shot.

“Pop!” which could have just as easily been called “Ouch!” is a masterpiece.  It could also have been labeled a Pop Opera.  It is has Kurt Weill’s mood-setting elements and contains lively characters from all walks of life, who are introduced by transsexual “Candy Darling,” brilliantly played by Brian Charles Rooney.  The leitmotiv is a paper bag in which nothing and everything can be contained – including beautiful works of art, expensive jewelry and deadly guns – in all a mirror of Andy Warhol’s life.

Exceptionally played characters are Leslie Kritzer as the vengeful “Valerie,” Cristen Paige as the poor little rich girl “Edie,” Emily Swallow as the vulgar “Viva” and Randy Harrison as the passive, “Andy Warhol.”   The energetic cast sings and dances to clever lyrics and are accompanied by a live pop band.   This is a history-making production that is not to be missed.

This review appeared in December's "On Connecticut Theatre"


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