ANDY: A POPERA (Opera Philadelphia & The Bearded Ladies): 2015 Fringe Review 37

Scene of multiple Andys from ANDY: A POPERA (Photo credit: Dominic M. Mercier)

Scene of multiple Andys from ANDY: A POPERA (Photo credit: Dominic M. Mercier)

An encompassing collaboration between Opera Philadelphia and The Bearded Ladies, ANDY: A POPERA reflects the youth culture, sexual liberation, popular media, famous imagery, and glittery surface of the Warhol ‘60s through the lens of how the general public perceives Andy today. But this exciting world-premiere—the final version of an evolving multi-phase project—does much more; it also considers the psychological motivations of the artist and his Superstars, thereby humanizing these very human icons of Pop. Wow, that’s beautiful.

Staged in a warehouse stacked with cardboard boxes (Oona Curley’s set evokes Warhol’s studio and the “Time Capsules” in which he preserved its memorabilia), the ensemble-devised multi-media work (a format Andy pioneered at the Factory and with the Exploding Plastic Inevitable) contains stirring Poperatic music (Heath Allen and Dan Visconti), a well-researched text (lead writing by director John Jarboe and performer Sean Lally), colorful costumes and wigs (Rebecca Kanach; Rachael Geier), witty props (Alice Yorke), and the unceasing ubiquitous cameras (video design by Jorge Cousineau) that evince the insightful eye of the artist, capture the era, and record everything for posterity (including the audience; attendance = consent).  The exhilarating fun and coveted fame of Act I is hijacked in Act II by the omnipresence of death, with a poignant, show-stealing, authentic performance by Scott McPheeters as the exquisite Candy Darling. Now 28 years after his passing, Andy remains a sensation who will always be remembered as a pivotal figure in our cultural history; ANDY: A POPERA contributes well to that legacy. [1526 N. American Street] September 10-20, 2015; fringearts.com/andy-a-popera.

 

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About the author

Debra Miller

Debra holds a PhD in Art History from the University of Delaware and teaches at Rowan University, Glassboro, NJ. She is a judge for the Barrymore Awards for Excellence in Theatre, Philadelphia Arts and Culture Correspondent for Central Voice, and has served as a Commonwealth Speaker for the Pennsylvania Humanities Council and President of the Board of Directors of Da Vinci Art Alliance. Her publications include articles, books, and catalogues on Renaissance, Baroque, American, Pre-Columbian, and Contemporary Art, and feature articles on the Philadelphia theater scene.