ANDY WARHOL’S TOMATO by Carol Kaufman Segal
Andy Warhol was born Andrew Warhola on August 6, 1928, in Pittsburgh, PA. (He later dropped the a from his last name.) The play, Andy Warhol’s Tomato by Vince Melocchi is making its World Premiere at the Pacific Resident Theatre in Venice.
The play takes place in the storage room of Bonino’s Bar in Homestead, a city near Pittsburgh, PA in the summer of 1946. Therefore, we know that Andy Warhol (Derek Chariton) is 18 years old when we see him awakening on the floor after having collapsed outside of the bar where he was rescued by Mario “Bones” Bonino (Keith Stevenson). Andy accidentally destroys a favorite picture frame of Bonino’s, and in order to make up for the loss, he offers to paint a new outdoor sign for his bar. This means he will be returning to the storage room until he finishes the painting.
Playwright Melocchi develops the two very opposite characters, as they meet on a daily basis, in a way that makes one feel that the storyline is true, one a sensitive artist, the other seemingly a complete opposite rough bar owner. Watching Chariton’s portrayal of Warhol at that age seems so realistic, that I imagined him exactly as he is characterized on the stage by this marvelous actor.
I could not have expected the sensitive character that Bones so remarkably turns into in his day to day encounter with Andy. But after all, as we discover, he is not as crass as he appears. He has secretly been hiding his typewriter and the writing that he has been spending his time developing for some time. Not even his wife is aware of his extracurricular activity. Stevenson is outstanding as he portrays this rough but sensitive man.
According to Vince Melocchi, the connection that he developed between Andy Warhol and Mario Bonino is due to his perfect knowledge of these two men. He admits that it is “because in many ways I am both of them, I’m the artist and will always identify with the blue collar man”. Wonderfully written, superbly performed, well-directed by Dana Jackson, perfect scenic design by Rich Rose, all makes for a production you won’t want to miss.
Andy Warhol’s Tomato plays Thursdays through Saturdays at 8 PM, Sundays at 3 PM, through September 22, at the Pacific Resident Theatre, 703 Venice Blvd., Venice. Tickets and/or information are available online at pacificresidentheatre.com, or by phone at (310) 822-8392.