This month, the Station North Arts and Entertainment District is abuzz. There’s a new pinball/video arcade, the second annual Baltimore theater awards by BITR Sisters (voting is open through 1/26 with ticket purchase, here), and the latest production by Stillpointe Theatre.
Count Stillpointe among companies like Single Carrot Theatre, ArtsCentric, and Rapid Lemon Productions who are making venue changes this season. Stillpointe’s new home near the corner of Maryland and North Avenues is brand-spanking-new and features a large gallery in addition to a flexible performance space. The gallery comes in handy right about now, as their inaugural presentation is the local premiere of “POP! Who Shot Andy Warhol?” – a musical about lies, truth, and revenge set amid the notorious world of Warhol’s 1960’s Factory period.
…a gifted, energetic ensemble and a crack production team.
The play, with music by Anna K. Jacobs and book/lyrics by Maggie-Kate Coleman, originated ten years ago at Yale Rep. It’s loosely based on actual people and events surrounding Warhol’s shooting the afternoon of June 3, 1968. All the Factory gang are present – Edie Sedgwick, Candy Darling, the lot – and all are suspects in the assault (no spoilers here, but a quick Google search will reveal who pulled the actual trigger).
Stillpointe’s rendition is directed by Ryan Haase, the company’s artistic director. At his disposal are a gifted, energetic ensemble and a crack production team. Music Director Stacey Antoine leads a five-piece band that’s strategically hidden far upstage; with ample amplification of the singers, the sound balance is great. Uncredited scenic design is mod, mod, mod, with crumpled silver mylar framing the stage. Kateri Pelton’s lighting is extremely colorful, and Johnny Rogers’ projections work almost as a narrator of the story. Costumes by Kitt Crescenzo, hair by Danielle Robinette, and props by Anna Platis are fanciful, fun, and perfectly suited to the period and vibe of the Factory aesthetic.
A uniformly dazzling cast of seven includes Nick Fruit as Warhol – cool, cruel, and dismissive. His art-lackeys Candy (Alicia Horton), Edie (Sarah Burton), Viva (Amber M. Wood), Gerard (Ricardo Sean Blagrove), and Ondine (Seth Julius Fallon) are confronted by an outsider: wannabe collaborator Valerie Solanas (Christine Demuth), author of the SCUM Manifesto (Society for Cuttin’ Up Men), has a new stage play that she wants Warhol to produce. Its profane title isn’t quite enough inducement for him, however; and besides, he’s far more interested in filming a “gay western” which he describes as “kind of like a ‘B’ movie but with a different letter”. Trouble ensues. Hilarious Walter Cronkite pantomimes peel a violent onion, as Andy drops passive-aggressive zingers on absolutely everyone: “I am a huge fan of your work”, he tells Jackson Pollock, “It looks so fun and easy”.
Speaking of fun, a special mention is absolutely required for local artist Lorraine Imwold, who will gladly custom-screen-print tee shirts featuring her graphic image designs for the show – ordered by patrons off a menu. See her before curtain time, your swag will be prêt-à-porter by curtain call. How cool is that?
Advisory: Firearm props and sound effects; offensive language; depictions of sexual harassment and consent issues in the workplace, and drug use.
Running Time: 80 minutes without intermission.
“POP! Who Shot Andy Warhol?” appears through February 1, 2020, at Stillpointe Theatre, 1915 Maryland Avenue, Baltimore. For tickets visit online.