Fictional tale tells of Warhol’s early years

| August 29, 2019 | 0 Comments

Andy Warhol’s Tomato

Who or what inspires and/or influences an artist, famous or otherwise, has always been an elusive query. Andy Warhol’s Tomato by Vince Melocchi explores the answer and the journey.

Part of Pittsburgh folklore tells of a working-class bar where a teenage Andy Warhola (the final “a” was dropped later in his career) drew on napkins in exchange for Coca Colas. The play takes place in 1946 and is a fictional account of a meeting between Andy (Derek Chariton) and blue-collar bar owner Bones (Keith Stevenson). Andy has fainted in front of the bar, and Bones has brought him to the basement (excellent scenic design by Rich Rose) to recover and wait for his brother. It’s the start of a unique relationship as they explore each other’s worlds. Andy has been tossed from Carnegie Tech and wants to go to New York. Bones has been secretly writing slogans and entering them in local contests, secret lest the bar clientele find the activity not “working class.”

As the action proceeds, Andy is painting a new sign for the bar, to pay for a picture frame he damaged. The final reveal of the sign and a farewell mural, by Andy, is a fitting conclusion to a moving play. Both of these actors have captured the essence of these diverse characters with style and empathy. Director Dana Jackson has staged the play with pace and insight so by the end of the evening you have affection and appreciation of their individual artistic souls. This is a lovely one act.

Through Sun., Sept. 22. Pacific Resident Theatre, 705½ Venice Blvd., 310-822-8392,

4 Stars

• • •

Fefu and Her Friends by Maria Irene Fornes was written in 1977 about women in 1935. Billed as a surreal comedy-drama about female empowerment, a group of eight women gather at the country home of Fefu (Tiffany Cole) to plan an educational event. Present are Cindy (Tanya Gorlow), Christina (Dominique Corona), Julia (Sandy Duarte), Emma (Sydney A. Mason), Paula (Cynthia Yelle), Sue (Alexis Santiago) and the late arrival, Cecilia (Jennifer Lee Laks).

The play’s format was groundbreaking at the time it was written. Part 1 takes place in the theater in front of a full audience; the scenic location is the living room. In Part 2, the audience divides into groups and is led simultaneously into four different spaces within the theater complex. There is only bench seating in each of the spaces but the scenes aren’t very long. My group went first to the kitchen. News of Hitler was playing on the radio and a white, working, vintage Frigidaire was humming along. Celia and Paula reminiscence a past affair. On to the study with Cindy and Christina. Next to the bedroom to hear Julia relate a harrowing monologue and finally the lawn where Emma and Fefu converse. After intermission, the entire audience returns to the theater.

Further expressions of female empowerment and their relationships to men are expressed leading to the enigmatic ending. The authentic vintage costumes are credited to Denise Blasor and Josh LaCour. Excellent scenic design is by Frederica Nascimento. This is a terrific cast and, thanks to director Denise Blasor, they’ve captured and maintained the ‘30s style and have found their individual feminist perspectives.

Through Sun., Sept. 29. Odyssey Theatre, 2055 S. Sepulveda Blvd., 310-477-2055. ext. 2

4 Stars

By Patricia Foster Rye

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Category: Entertainment

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