The Bearded Ladies

Art of Life — Produced by Karen Smyles

The Bearded Ladies is an experimental cabaret group devoted to exploiting all the possibilities of intimate, homemade theater through beautiful songs, tricked-out costume changes, drag, and virtuosic prop construction. With wit and sparkle, they tackle the politics of popular culture, sex, gender, and artistic invention.

In September, The Beards will be premiering a new work developed in collaboration with Opera Philadelphia. Earlier this year Friday Arts went behind the scenes to one of the first rehearsals, with the entire creative team. Watch our interview with the Beard’s Artistic Director, John Jarboe, and you’ll instantly see what makes the troupe wildly entertaining, to just about everyone. We also talk with Heath Allen, their Music Director and Composer, Dan Visconti, who are working together on ANDY: A Popera.

A Popera is a musical mélange inspired by the life, fame, and the philosophy of Andy Warhol. A Popera is, like its eponymous hero, a fabulous collision of the high and low, the commercial and the artistic, the traditional and the innovative. It is a work that explodes onto the stage–and sparks out into the audience, presenting singing soup cans, Marilyns, and a randy banana on stage with contemporary versions of Warhol Superstars Valerie Solanas, Candy Darling, and Edie Sedgwick. It’s an artistic collision of cabaret and opera exploring what Warhol has become today. What happens when a man becomes a brand?

The opera will premiere on Thursday, September 10th as part of the Fringe Festival, with shows through September 20th. For more information, visit

Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

Together we can reach 100% of WHYY’s fiscal year goal