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1968. New York City. The Factory. Art icon Andy Warhol has a new project—handing out empty paper bags to his friends, much to their bewilderment and chagrin. Their confusion is the least of his problems, though, since Andy’s agreed to let his friend Viva star in the film he’s making in The Factory, his mecca for Pop Art. He doesn’t realize how jealous Factory poster girl, Edie Sedgwick would become at losing her place at the center of the camera frame. Meanwhile, aspiring playwright Valerie Solanis’ patience runs thin with Andy when he fails to return her self-proclaimed revolutionary script. When Andy’s new film doesn’t make Viva the next Factory “it” girl, Viva also becomes irritated with Andy’s lackluster acknowledgment of his friends’ contributions to the success of The Factory. And when all three women find guns in those mysterious empty paper bags, this musical whodunit turns fatal.
The Life of Andy Warhol
August 6, 1928- Andrew Warhola is born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
1945- Andrew Warhola begins his studies at the Carnegie Institute of Technology
1949-Andy Warhola graduates from college and moves to New York City, where he works as a
1950s- Andy Warhol works as an illustrator for fashion magazines like Vogue, Glamour and Harper’s
1952- Andy Warhol has his first individual show at the Hugo Gallery, featuring “Fifteen Drawings Based
on the Writings of Truman Capote”
1956- Andy Warhol has his first group show at The Museum of Modern Art
1960s-Andy Warhol begins developing his Pop Art paintings
1962- Andy Warhol founds The Factory, his art studio
-Andy Warhol discovers the silkscreen process, which leads to some of his most famous works, like
10 Marilyns and A Set of Six Self-Portraits
1963- Andy Warhol begins to make movies
1968- Valerie Solanis shoots Andy Warhol at the Factory
1969- Andy Warhol starts his magazine, Interview
February 22, 1987- Andy Warhol dies from complications after a gall bladder surgery
1994- The Andy Warhol Museum opens in Pittsburgh
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Warhol’s first studio space, called the Factory, was founded in January of 1964 in the fifth floor of an abandoned hat shop at 231 East 47th Street, between 2nd and 3rd Avenue, in New York City. Billy Name, a sometimes lover of Warhol’s and an artist and designer at the Judson Church (an experimental performance spaced used by performance artists and dancers), was determined to give Andy a fabulous work space, and painted the entire interior of the Factory silver, right down to the toilet bowl. The Factory was decorated with discarded furniture found on the streets; the most famous discovery was the circular furry red couch featured in many of Warhol’s films. The “Silver Factory” was home to many of Warhol’s films and screen tests, as well as Andy’s three-dimensional, photorealistic reproductions of boxes of Heinz Tomato Ketchup, Kellogg’s Corn Flakes, Brillo Pads, and Mott’s Apple Sauce. This factory was known for its orgies, parties, and excessive drug use. It was here that Edie Sedgwick, Joe Dallesandro, and most of Warhol’s entourage first stumbled into his films.
In the winter of 1968 Andy moved the Factory to the sixth floor of 33 Union Square West. This Factory would be home to Warhol’s Christmas parties, many new films made on and off site, as well as a new series of commissioned pop-art portraits. This factory, though painted white, remained a safe-haven for Warhol’s superstars: artists, intellectuals, models, and druggies of importance. Warhol’s gang included Nico and Lou Reed of the Velvet Underground; Ultra Violet, a performance artist and patron of the arts; International Velvet, a teen-age model; and Paul Morrissey, Andy’s manager and film director. Other famous visitors included Bob Dylan, model Jane Forth, and Jack Kerouac. In the 1980’s Warhol moved his Factory to Madison Avenue between 32nd and 33rd Street. Today, 33 Union Square West is home to a sneaker retailer and office space.
The Washington Post
It’s a rehearsal for “Pop!,” the eccentric Andy-Warhol- whodunit musical that is taking a madcap trip back to the Sixties, starting July 13, at adventuresome Studio 2ndStage. “Pop!,” the brainchild of writer Maggie-Kate Coleman and composer Anna K. Jacobs, recalls the atmosphere and personalities of the Factory, the famous studio and hangout where Warhol reigned as genius and guru. But, with wacky audacity, the musical imagines Warhol and his hangers-on as characters in a murder-mystery burlesque, using, as narrative hook, the real (nonfatal) 1968 shooting of Warhol by the script-writing wannabe, and Society for Cutting Up Men founder, Valerie Solanis.
Sleuthing sequences feature Warhol sidekicks such as Edie Sedgwick and the speed-freak legend Ondine as suspects or gumshoes; a western-style barroom brawl, starring the abstract expressionists as paintbrush-wielding gunslingers; and the reinvention of Warhol’s celebrity images (Marilyn Monroe, Mao Zedong) as mug shots. Such tongue-in-cheek scenes unspool to Jacobs’s eclectic score.
Yet, while the musical would appear to bubble with cartoonish zaniness, the Studio production — which stars Story as Warhol and runs through Aug. 7 — incorporates historical authenticity, too. For this second-ever presentation of “Pop!” (the show had its premiere, in a somewhat different form, at Yale Repertory Theatre in 2009), director Keith Alan Baker has devised an environmental staging aimed at immersing audiences more fully in the aesthetic and social ferment of the late 1960s Factory.
To the seven principal roles in the musical, Baker and his assistant directors — Jennifer Harris and Hunter Styles — have added five parts for ensemble members who will play Factory habitues modeled on historical figures such as Paul Morrissey, Warhol’s filmmaking associate. During the show, and in the minutes before it, these ensemble members will be busy silk-screening (the process that enabled Warhol to create his celebrated Campbell’s soup can images), painting, taking photographs and making videos that will be projected, live, as part of the extravaganza.
In short, says Baker, who is the artistic director of Studio 2ndStage, while the script and score of “Pop!” focus on a particular chapter in Warhol’s life — the 1968 shooting and its roots in the Factory groupies’ resentments and craving for fame — the Studio rendering will “look at the bigger picture.”
“We don’t want this to be a gallery show,” says Styles, a director and playwright who is a founding member of the District’s Wayward Theatre. Instead, he says, “Pop!” audiences will have the sense of walking into an artistic “beehive.”
“To create the Factory mentality, Warhol had people all around doing things every minute of every day,” emphasizes Harris, who is an assistant production manager and casting associate for Studio and who is in charge of art wrangling for “Pop!”
During the rehearsal, Harris pointed out various Warhol- quoting artworks-in-progress — several of which will continue to be in-progress for the run. A semi-completed painting of enormous pink knives hugged a back wall. Nearer stood Brillo cartons, standing in for Warhol’s iconic grocery-box replicas. And black-and-white copies of dollar bills paid tribute to masterpieces such as “200 One Dollar Bills” (a silkscreen that Sotheby’s sold for $43.8 million two years ago).
Harris indicated a silver toilet prominently positioned on the set — an allusion to the Factory decor famously painted silver by Warhol associate Billy Linich. The toilet had been lying around Studio’s property and was given a glam makeover. “We find things and Andy-fy them,” she said.
To fashion a fully Andy-fied world for “Pop!,” Harris and her colleagues are budgeting for 20 gallons of silver paint, 1,000 feet of aluminum foil, 1,500 paper bags and 150 feet of Mylar for balloons. Additional material may be required to evoke Warhol’s Oxidation series, whose medium was urine on copper- covered canvas.
Studio’s resident paint artisan, Luciana Stecconi, has been recruited to share tips on techniques such as silk-screening with actors who’ll be engaged in such activities during the show. “Warhol camp!” Baker says in an amused tone, describing the training stint the ensemble extras are undergoing.
But the performers will not be the only ones caught up in the conjuring of Warhol’s art: The audience will be, too. For starters, the seating area in Stage 4 will be elliptical, mirroring an elliptical stage that recalls Warhol’s egg paintings. The egg series is “a work that we don’t see much of,” observes set and properties designer Giorgos Tsappas, who found this relative obscurity refreshing, given the high profile of, say, the Campbell’s cans, or Warhol’s cow wallpaper.
“What I told Keith right away is, ‘We’ll have no cows!’ ” Tsappas says.
Not all the audience participation will be so subtle. Baker and his assistant directors are factoring a hefty dollop of interactivity into their production. In a site-specific touch, theater-goers will access Stage 4 through an unusual route, involving little-seen Studio spaces transformed (with sculptures, film and more) to suggest the Factory.
Displays of dance blueprints, modeled on Warhol’s Dance Diagram paintings, will invite ticket holders to a little D.I.Y. hoofin’. And Harris says audience members who show up dressed as a historical Factory personality will be allowed to take seats in special VIP silver chairs.
“To some degree, [audiences] will be able to choose how they will experience the show,” Baker said.
Baker and Styles say the participatory approach and unconventional use of space are designed to make “Pop!” a “happening”—an avant-garde format arguably in tune with the three-ring-circus party-and-art-lab atmosphere of the Factory itself.
Of course, to a layman, there might seem to be an inherent tension between the straight-from-the-archives art and the nuttiness of Coleman and Jacobs’s musical. But, says Baker, “this piece allows for this blowing up and expansion, because it is what it is. It’s fantastical and not literal.”
And there’s something about the re-contextualization that might suit Warhol’s aesthetic.
“Andy really reinvented what painting was,” Styles says. “It wasn’t about trying to see something brand-new. It was about trying to resee what was already there.”
Tom Story (Andy)
Matthew Delorenzo (Candy)
Rachel Zampelli (Valerie)
Deborah Lubega (Viva)
Marylee Adams (Edie)
Sean Maurice Lynch (Ondine)
Luke Tudball (Gerard)
Director and Designers
Keith Alan Baker (Director)
Hunter Styles (Co-Director)
Jennifer Harris (Co-Director)
Chris Youstra (Music Director)
Helanius Wilkins (Choreographer)
Giorgos Tsappas (Set Designer)
Colin K. Bills (Lighting Designer)
Erik Trester (Video/Projections Designer)
Ivania Stack (Costume Designer)
Aaron Fisher (Sound Designer/Live Mix)
Maggie-Kate Coleman (Book, Lyrics) wrote the book and lyrics for POP! and From a Childhood, written with Erato Kremmyda. Her work has been featured at The York Theatre Company’s NEO Cabaret, Joe’s Pub, Barrington Stage, Laurie Beechman Theatre, Prospect Theater Company, Goodspeed Musicals, The Darlinghurst Theatre, New York Theatre Barn and most recently at the National Alliance for Musical Theatre’s Songwriters Showcase. Current projects include rainsong, a dance theatre piece with composer Erato Kremmyda and choreographer Clare Cook; an adaptation of Ludwig Tieck’s Der Blonde Eckbert; and a full-length musical inspired by poems from Rainer Maria Rilke's Book of Images. A graduate of Ithaca College and NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts Graduate Musical Theatre Writing program, she also trained at the National Theater Institute at the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center.
Anna K. Jacobs (Composer) wrote the music for POP! and Stella and the Moon Man (Sydney Theatre Company/Theatre of Image/Australian Youth Orchestra, 2005), which won a Helpmann Award. Current projects include music for Harmony, Kansas, about a gay men’s chorus in rural Kansas; and lyrics for Shooting from the Hip, a song cycle commissioned to open the 2010 Sydney Festival. Her music and lyrics have been featured at National Alliance for Musical Theatre, Joe's Pub, The York Theatre Company, Theatre Row, Laurie Beechman Theatre, NYTB at the Duplex, Barrington Stage Company, Goodspeed Musicals, Don't Tell Mama, The Darlinghurst Theatre, The Art Gallery of New South Wales, and many others. Anna received her MFA from NYU’s Graduate Musical Theatre Writing Program, and her B.Mus. (Honors I) from the University of Sydney; she also studied composition at the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music. She is a member of the Dramatists Guild of America and is represented by the Australian Music Centre and MorningStar Music Publishers. Originally from Sydney, Australia, she is now based in New York.