Bryan Burke stars as Mario “Bones” Bonino and Alexander Wisnieski stars as Andy Warhol in “Andy Warhol’s Tomato,” presented by Buffalo Theatre Ensemble Feb. 2-March 5 at the McAninch Arts Center at the College of DuPage in Glen Ellyn. (Rex Howard Photography)
In anticipation of the upcoming Andy Warhol exhibition this summer at the College of DuPage, the Buffalo Theatre Ensemble presents the play “Andy Warhol’s Tomato.”
“Andy Warhol’s Tomato” is written by Vince Melocchi and directed by Steve Scott. Bryan Burke of Glen Ellyn stars as Mario “Bones” Bonino and Alexander Wisnieski of Wheaton stars as Andy Warhol. Performances are at 8 p.m. Thursdays-Saturdays and at 3 p.m. Sundays Feb. 2-March 5 at the McAninch Arts Center.
The exhibition is called “Warhol: Featuring Andy Warhol Portfolios: A Life in Pop/Works from the Bank of America Collection” and runs June 3-Sept. 23. It will be hosted by the Cleve Carney Museum of Art and McAninch Arts Center at the College of DuPage in Glen Ellyn.
The play is set in Pittsburgh in the summer of 1946, when an 18-year-old Andy Warhol spends time with the owner of a working-class bar. The two strike up an unlikely friendship.
Scott is a longtime Buffalo Theatre collaborator even though he wasn’t familiar with this play.
“I am best at plays that deal with fairly rich character relationships and this play is certainly about that — about two very different people who come into contact with each other and find out they have a lot in common and inspire each other,” he said.
“Also, I have kind of an obsession with Andy Warhol as a cultural figure. So the subject matter interested me a great deal from the get-go.”
The action picks up after Andy’s freshman year of college, he said.
“He’s in trouble there. He refuses to follow the rules, all that sort of stuff,” he said. “During his summer break, he helps his brother deliver vegetables around the small towns outside of Pittsburgh.”
Slowly, the audience gets to know young Andy and Bones, the bartender-owner.
“Basically, it’s about two people who seem very different but at the end of the day have similar interests and similar takes on the world and help each other find each other’s artistic voices,” Scott said.
The play is “unexpectedly warm and reassuring,” he said, and he thinks audiences will respond to that.
“In a time where we are all so separated from each other, it’s always good to see a story where you find two very different people who find out what bonds they have in common and what draws them together,” he said.
“And the play is very, very funny, as well as being sweet and emotional. It’s nice to see two very different people come together in a very meaningful way and a very true way.”
The play drops hints at Warhol’s future artistic brilliance, he said, including sketches of iconic images that we associate with Warhol.
“Andy was a very unusual person. He was in some ways painfully insecure and in other ways, he was very, very sure of himself as an artist and eventually as a man,” he said. “Warhol was a very enigmatic figure and most people don’t know a whole lot about him. I think this is a wonderful key to a figure that we all recognize but didn’t know very well.”
‘Andy Warhol’s Tomato’
When: 8 p.m. Thursdays-Saturdays and 3 p.m. Sundays Feb. 2-March 5
Where: McAninch Arts Center at the College of DuPage, 425 Fawell Blvd., Glen Ellyn
Information: 630-942-4000; atthemac.org
Annie Alleman is a freelance reporter for the Naperville Sun.