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RED, WHITE AND TUNA

a Comedy
CATEGORY :
by Jaston Williams, Joe Sears, Ed Howard

COMPANY : Theatre in the Square [WEBSITE]
VENUE : Theatre In The Square:Alley Stage [WEBSITE]
ID# 4031

SHOWING : June 01, 2011 - June 26, 2011

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PRODUCTION DESCRIPTION

The third installment in the GREATER TUNA trilogy finds all your favorite citizens of Texas' third-smallest town celebrating the Fourth of July at the Tuna High School Class Reunion. Bertha and Arles are about to be married; Didi is about to have her UFO-abducted husband, R.R., declared legally dead; Vera is the only remaing candidate for Reunion Queen; and Helen & Inita are serving Aunt Pearl's delicious-but-toxic potato salad at their food booth. Bill Murphey and Bryan Mercer return in their roles, and TUNA playwright once again directs.


CAST & CREW LIST
Director Ed Howard
Dresser Minoo Bassery
Dresser Tyler Hayes
Stage Manager Tristan Ludden
Dresser Tracy Thomas
arles, Didi, Vera, etc. Bryan Mercer
Thurston, Bertha, Pearl, etc. Bill Murphey
Click to Submit Cast & Crew Info for this production
REVIEWS

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Wed Right in Tuna
by playgoer
Saturday, June 25, 2011
3.5
"Red, White and Tuna" is not the best of the Greater Tuna shows. It brings back most of the favorite characters from "Greater Tuna" and "A Tuna Christmas," but many of the favorites have little more than cameo appearances. The show concerns an Independence Day school reunion (the excuse for getting some of the characters back in town) and is bracketed by the engagement and marriage of Bertha (played by William S. Murphey) and Arles (played by Bryan Mercer).

The set is essentially the same as last winter's "A Tuna Christmas" at the same space. It's a lovely set, and Mary Parker's lighting design adds some nice effects, such as twinkling stars and fireworks. The four chairs are arranged in various configurations to suggest different locales, but it's the costumes by Elizabeth Rasmusson that really set the different scenes. Well, the costmes, wigs, and the delightful acting of Bryan Mercer and William S. Murphey. Those two actors are the reason to see the show.

Director/author Ed Howard sets a somewhat leisurely pace, letting the show run a little longer than it could. A little bit of spark is missing, and it's primarily the fault of the script, which dwells a bit much on the digestive complications of potato salad that's been left out too long. The reunion concept doesn't really work either, since everyone in town seems to be involved in it somehow, and having so many distinct characters apparently of the same age doesn't ring true. The script doesn't explicitly state that the reunion is for members of a specific year's graduating class, but that's probably going to be the assumption of most audience members.

What "Red, White and Tuna" does have a lot of is heart. William S. Murphey adds heartfelt touches to all his characters, but his Bertha is particularly bashful, feisty, and sweet. Bryan Mercer's characters are often hard-edged, with little but the edges showing, but his Arles feels more rounded and complete. When Bertha and Arles part, and later when they marry, the emotions seem very true, with the bittersweetness of love competing with the boneheadedness of human behavior to end in a quiet, somewhat sentimental resolution. While the belly laughs might be a little lacking in the show, the emotional arc of Bertha and Arles provides a satisfying framework for another Tuna, Texas show. [POST A COMMENT REGARDING THIS REVIEW]
Deja Vu, Y'All!
by Dedalus
Friday, June 24, 2011
3.5
Howdy, y’all! I sure do hope all y’all’re havin’ a sparkly delightful spring (I do, I do!). If only it wasn’t as hot and steamy as a Tijuana House o’ Hospitality, I think we’d all be a mite more comfy and happy.

A highlight o’ my week was supposed to be another trip to Tuna, TX. I’ll be durned if Theatre in the Square didn’t move that ole Lone Star Flag back to the floor of Alley Stage where it all started back when, and I’ll be durned if they didn’t bring back two fine and dandy actors on top of it to play all the folks of Tuna TX. Sad to say, though, this version don’t wiggle along as smooth as a silky sidewinder dumped out of a Gulf oil spill like the last umpteen trips, but kinda just lies there, like a heat-stroked armadillo lyin’ on its back.

This is the third Tuna play by Jaston Williams, Joe Sears, and Ed Howard, and it’s directed by Mr. Howard, but, for me, it weren’t as funny or as interestin’ as “Greater Tuna” or “Tuna Christmas.”

A coupla years have gone by since we last saw these folks. Arles and Bertha are fixin’ to get hitched, R.R. Snavely has finally come back from his UFO tour of the unknown (and Didi isn’t too happy), Helen and Inita have their own caterin’ business (and their old hankerin’ ways), and flower-children Star Birdfeather and Amber Windchime have come back for a High School Reunion that no one seems to be lookin’ forward to. We also see old favorites Charlene and Stanley, Vera and Thurston, and, of course, Petey Fisk, but I guess I was just too durn heat-snoozy to figure out just what alla them were up to these days.

Now, if you haven’t heard by this time, these Tuna plays are character portraits (if y’all will forgive a high-falutin’ phrase) of the residents of tiny 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 they just couldn’t seem to reach into my belly and tie a knot of somethin’ serious and pleasant, like they’ve done before. Still, I do have a certain fondness for all these folks, and that’s a whole different march to another kettle of fish.

Now, on to the warranted praise, Bryan Mercer and William S. Murphey give two dozen mighty fine and funny performances. To repeat what I said about last year’s excursions, Mr. Mercer is very convincing in all the lady parts he visits (not to mention good old Petey Fisk), 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. In the previous plays, I was 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. This time, though, there was just more ugly than funny, more same-old same-old than sudden surprise, more potato salad than bar-b-cued possum.

Still, if you liked these characters, you’ll probably like ‘em again. If you never met ‘em, well, you just might like ‘em too. After all, I’m just a narcoleptic old smarty-pants who needs to get more sleep and see fewer high-falutin’ shows, so what does what I say really matter? It don’t, it don’t!

So, all I can say to all y’all is you could do yourselves a favor by moseyin’ on over to the Theatre in the Square (which, of course, the Smut Snatchers won’t let me abbreviate) 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 just may have a finer time than I did, y’hear?

-- Brad Rudy (BKRudy@aol.com)


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