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a Comedy
by Joe Sears, Jaston Williams, Ed Howard

COMPANY : Theatre in the Square [WEBSITE]
VENUE : Theatre In The Square:Alley Stage [WEBSITE]
ID# 3881

SHOWING : November 16, 2010 - January 02, 2011



The Christmas Phantom has returned to Tuna, Texas, and is wreaking havoc on the citizens' holiday. Thurston, Arles, Bertha, Aunt Pearl, Vera, Didi and all your other favorites from GREATER TUNA return for this refreshingly unsentimental holiday comedy with a Texas flair. Bill Murphey and Bryan Mercer star; TUNA playwright Ed Howard directs

Dresser Ellen Gaydos
Director Ed Howard
Stage Manager Tristan Ludden
Dresser Tyler Hayes
Arles, Didi, Petey, Vera, et al Bryan Mercer
Thurston, Bertha, Pearl, R.R. et al Bill Murphey
Costumes Lindsey Paris
Dresser Tracy Thomas
Click to Submit Cast & Crew Info for this production


Tuna Cast A-Rollin'
by playgoer
Sunday, January 2, 2011
Theatre in the Square's "A Tuna Christmas" boasts direction by Ed Howard, one of the co-authors of the piece. That's probably one reason why the production so ably points up the strengths of the play, getting all laughs possible out of the lines and situations. Two fine actors portray a number of inhabitants of Tuna, Texas, ranging from bratty children to elderly ladies. Incredibly quick costume and wig changes help this take place.

The set, designed by John Thigpen, is pretty simple. Furnishings consist of a red and white kitchen table set, a Christmas tree, and a console radio. The upstage wall has a silhouette inspired by the Alamo, painted in blue sky above and tumbleweed-filled desert on the bottom. The center door is sometimes opened to allow a similarly painted piece to roll in to portray a drive-in window. The floor is painted with the Lone Star state flag, with the star cleverly lighted to act as the location for several short vignettes. Overall lighting and sound are effective, without drawing undue attention to themselves.

The performances, of course, are what are most memorable. Bryan Mercer has a great voice for multiple characters, ranging from a very believable lady's alto to a gruff male baritone. His look also allows him to range upward in age from a boyish adolescent to post-middle age. The more portly William S. Murphey doesn't show quite the same flexibility of look and apparent age, but he is equally endearing in a number of roles, particularly his ladies of a certain age.

Almost no props are used in the show, which requires the actors to mime a lot of actions. That adds a lot of fun to the proceedings, particularly when a somewhat baffling mime movement suddenly becomes clear when a line refers to what we've just seen performed. The exception to the lack of props is a box of tree ornaments, including a couple of clumps of tinsel. I'm not sure that having physical ornaments adds to the play at all. The tinsel adhering to the floor and wigs can be a bit distracting at times. It is much more fun watching these two talented actors relying only on their own movements and reactions to carry the action along. And, lordy, how that action keeps a-rollin' along! [POST A COMMENT REGARDING THIS REVIEW]
There's a Ring of Gaudy Glitter in Texas
by Dedalus
Friday, December 3, 2010
Howdy, y’all! I sure do hope all y’all’re havin’ a sparkly delightful fall (I do! I do!).

Somethin’ that made my weekend shine a little bit more was another trip to Tuna, TX, just for the Halibut! I’ll be durned if Theatre in Square’s Alley Stage didn’t just put an ole Lone Star flag on its floor and plunk down two fine and dandy actors on top of it to play all the folks of Tuna TX. And I’ll be durned if the whole blamed thing don’t just wiggle along like a sidewinder dumped out of a tub of motor oil.

Now, if you haven’t heard by this time, “A Tuna Christmas” is the second in the popular “Tuna, Texas” series by Joe Sears, Jaston Williams, and Ed Howard. These plays are character portraits (if y’all will forgive a high-falutin’ phrase) of the residents of Tuna TX, in which pr’t’ near everyone (man, woman, child, and critter) are played by two actors (supported by what has to be a squadron of backstage dressers). These folks are silly and funny, but I’ll be durned if they don’t occasionally reach into my belly and tie a knot of somethin’ serious and pleasant. Granted, I do have a certain fondness for “Tuna Christmas,” since it was the first play I was paid to light (back when I was still in Yankee up in Pennsylvania), and I teched another production just a few years back.

To recap some of the various stories happening on stage – well, let’s just say that the “Christmas Phantom” is on the loose sabotaging as many yard displays as possible, the Bumiller family is having a Blue Season, Vera Carp is going for her 15th Yard Display win, Didi Snavely’s husband RR is still chasing that flying saucer, and the lights are about to be turned off on the Community Theater’s production of “A Christmas Carol.” Which may be a good thing. In any case, radio personalities Arles and Thurston have a piece to say about pr’t’ near everything and everybody (They do, they do!). Fans of the Tuna characters can expect this play to be as comfortable and aggravating as a visit to those distant relatives you’re not exactly sure you still like.

In this particular visit, all the too-many Christmas Trees that aggravated backstage folks have been reduced to just one, lit in different ways for different scenes, I’m not sure that was a good idea all the time, but for this play, most of the time sure as shootin’ counts.

Now, on to the beef of the matter, Bryan Mercer and William S. Murphey give two dozen of the best performances of the year. Mr. Mercer is very convincing in all the lady parts he visits, and Mr. Murphey finds laughs in the most movin’ scenes and finds a flicker of feeling in the most silly scenes. These two work together like grits and beans, and never even raise a sweat in their many costume switcheroos. They make it look easy.

Some fancy Yankee writers say the Tuna plays make the characters look foolish and silly, and true Texans should oughta hate ‘em. I’m inclined to see the sparks of folks I really know in all of ‘em, and laugh at the all the eccentricities that can be ugly if they weren’t so funny.

So, all I can say to all y’all is you would do yourselves a favor by moseyin’ on over to the Alley Stage in Marietta GA (a big city by Tuna standards, I reckon), and visit with some folks you may (or may not) have visited before.

You’ll have a fine time, y’hear?

-- Brad Rudy (



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