Monday, November 24, 2008

Tuna Christmas

Those quirky citizens of Tuna, the third smallest town in Texas, are back at the Woodland Opera House to share their Christmas Eve celebrations with you.

Thurston Wheelis and Arles Stuvie are back at the microphones at radio station OKKK ready to dispense all the local and international news (“In international news today, Christmas violence flares, leaving thousands dead in Mag... Mada... Madg... I can't even pronounce the name of the place. ...they’re foreigners, so never mind”)

There’s DiDi Snavely, who runs Didi’s Used Weapons Emporium (“If we can’t kill it, it’s immortal), and who is running her annual holiday sale (“wouldn't you rather shoot somebody than watch'em run off with your new toaster oven?”) has a very unusual collection of decorations for her shop’s Christmas tree.

Elmer Watkins is inviting everyone to the local klan’s annual Christmas party and skeet shoot. “Our theme this year is The Whitest Christmas Ever.”

Bertha Bumiller is once again at her wits end about her children and threatening to “put on that Andy Williams album” if they don’t shape up.

Sullen daughter Charlene and son Stanley, the town delinquent, are both in the town’s production of “A Christmas Carol” (by “Charlie Dickens”). Charlene is taken with the director, Joe Bob Lipsey (who is a bit “odd”), and Stanley is looking to the production to help him finally get off parole so he can leave town. (All he wants from Santa is “a bus ticket out of this black hole.”)

But the production may not take place at all, if penny-pinching Dixie Dewberry has her way. The theater hasn’t paid the electric bill and she’s threatening to pull the plug on the power so that show can’t go on.

In the meantime, there is a town phantom running around destroying the house decorations of the homes vying for best Christmas decorations, such as putting Fruit of the Looms on the figures in the nativity display of Vera Carp, the town snob.

Sweet Aunt Pearl may know more about the Phantom than she’s saying, but she’s busy looking for a weapon to kill the birds in her front yard. (“I haven't had a gun in my house since I accidentally killed my second husband.”)

The Smut Snatchers of the New Order are trying to get “Silent Night” banned because they aren’t sure people should sing about “round young virgins.”

In addition to all the favorite characters from Jaston Williams, Joe Sears and Ed Howard’s first play, “Greater Tuna,” “Tuna Christmas adds new characters, such as Lipsey and the waitresses Inita Goodwin and Helen Bedd, among others.

All twenty-two characters are played by two wonderfully talented actors, the Woodland Opera House’s Jeff Kean and Bob Baxter, from Runaway Stage Company, reprising their roles from the 2001 production of “Greater Tuna.”

With the help of bouffant hair pieces, a variety of colorful costumes (designed by Laurie Everly Klassen), some interesting set pieces which hide half of the body here and there, and an incredible crew (all of whom deserve recognition)–Chris Medina, Joseph Franklin, Charene Lauritzen, Ryan Mannie, Dana Smuda, Michael Smuda, Curtis Stupp and Chris Taloff--the actors accomplish the transition from one character to another so smoothly the audience is not aware of what must certainly be organized pandemonium backstage.

Dave Hushbeck is the sound designer, a job which is crucial in this production.

Jeff Kean is credited with set design, which the program says is based on the original production design. It allows for characters to disappear in one door and emerge seconds later out another as a different character, for curtains to hide parts of the body that are moving into place behind a counter, etc.

While there is a semblance of a story from beginning to end, it is more a collection of kinda sorta related skits.

Gather up your funny bone and head to the Woodland Opera house for a good chuckle and a few guffaws to get you in the proper mood for the coming holiday season.

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