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Firehouse Theatre Project Pop! Who Shot Andy Warhol?

By • Jul 20th, 2013 • Category: Reviews
Pop! Who Shot Andy Warhol?
Firehouse Theatre Project: (Info) (Web)
Firehouse Theatre, Richmond, VA
Through August 10th
1:50 with intermission
$32/$26 Seniors/$15 Student, RAPT, Miltary
Reviewed July 18th, 2013

There are comedies. There are dramas. There are musicals. There are murder mysteries. Then there is POP! which combines all of these into one wonderful, unique, dynamic show.

POP! tells the true life story of who shot and nearly killed “Pop” artist Andy Warhol on June 3, 1968. Even those of us who are old enough to remember Warhol and know what happened can enjoy the ride in this Magical Mystery Tour trippy murder mystery.

Putting all the past few months’ controversy aside; the Firehouse Theater has made a wise choice in achieving their mission to bring to Richmond edgy contemporary American Theater. The Firehouse is only the fourth theater to take on this new musical with book and lyrics by Maggie-Kate Coleman and music by Anna K. Jacobs.

In order for the show to work, director Jase Smith had to find just the right Warhol; and he did in John Mincks. Mincks not only looks the part in his white-haired wig and glasses; he embodies Warhol’s persona, complete with Warhol’s understated speech patterns, dazed and confused demeanor and posed body language. I have a feeling someday, I will be watching the red carpet, pointing and saying: “That’s John Mincks, who got his start in Richmond!”

The show starts off with a bang — literally. Larger than life drag queen Candy Darling (Ian Stearns) then serves as the narrator, guiding us through the cast of characters who inhabited Warhol’s “Factory” art studio in the 1960’s. The entire cast is filled with some of Richmond’s best singers, who get to perform a wide range of song styles in this quirky musical.

The group is also introduced by Darling as the suspects in the shooting. There is Edie Sedgwick the “It Girl” (Grey Garrett), Viva the intellectual (Christie Jackson), feminist activist outsider Valerie Solanis (Audra Honaker), and drug addled associates Gerard Malanga (Evan Nasteff), and Pope Ondine (Axle Burtness). Gerard and Ondine double as detectives, trying to “solve the case” who are one part Starsky and Hutch and one part Scooby Doo and Shaggy and have some of the show’s best comedic moments.

Eddie Slipek’s double-level smoke-filled set appropriately sets the Beatnik 60’s mood and Margaret Joyner’s colorful costumes effectively portray the period. Slipek even managed to find room for a live 5 piece band on stage.

Among the show stoppers are Mincks singing Warhol’s “Retrospective,” where Mincks’ masterfully moves Warhol from a caricature to a real life, pained and flawed man; and Stearn’s poignant “Candy’s Lament.”

There were a few technical glitches with late light cues, occasional missed marks by actors leaving them in the dark and microphone imbalances (especially Edie’s mike which occasionally cut out or became garbled). Thunder sound effects sometimes also overpower the dialogue.

Director Smith and choreographer Starr Foster keep the action moving on the small stage. Foster’s sometimes frenetic movements were a bit inhibited by the small space, but were fascinating to behold, especially with the multi-talented Stearns (who also did an impressive spot on Walter Cronkite impression).

Just as the show starts with a bang, it ends with one as well. I won’t spoil the ending, but Smith chose a great way to close out the show.

Again, as a reviewer, it is my job to put all the controversy aside and share my honest opinions. Honestly, the talented young cast of POP! truly does pop and you will have a blast watching this novel piece of theater.

Photo Gallery

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Photos by Bill Sigafoos

The Cast

  • Andy: John Mincks
  • Candy: Ian Stearns
  • Edie: Grey Garrett
  • Viva: Christie Jackson
  • Valerie: Audra Honaker
  • Gerard: Evan Nasteff
  • Ondine: Axle Burtness

The Crew

  • Director: Jase Smith
  • Choreographer: Starr Foster
  • Music Director: Leilani Giles
  • Costume Designer: Margaret Joyner
  • Lighting Designer by Andrew Bonniwell
  • Set Designer: Eddie Slipek
  • Projection Designer: Nathan Wunderlich
  • Production Manager: Annie Colpitts
  • Stage Manager: Christin Boone
  • Technical Director/ Audio Design: Joey Luck
  • Master Carpenter: Joshua Bennett
  • Props Master: Kiari Hicks

Disclaimer: Firehouse Theatre Project provided two complimentary media tickets to ShowBizRadio for this review.

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is by day a Special Education teacher, teaching History, Science and drama to Middle and High School students in a private Day School in Stafford. He has degrees in Educational Media and Special Education. He is also a part time Radio News Anchor and occasional actor in the Richmond area. Bruce is a native of New Jersey and spent most of his "adult" life in Upstate New York, where he started and ran a national award winning youth theater and cable television program for over 10 years. He has lived in Virginia since 2002, and in Caroline County since 2005, where he is active in many community groups; including serving on the Board of Caroline's Promise.

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  1. […] unique, dynamic show… you will have a blast watching this novel piece of theater.” — Bruce Levy, […]