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Theatre Arlington presents: A Tuna Christmas
December 5, 2013 - December 22, 2013
Theatre Arlington’s 41st season will next be taking us on a hilarious journey to the booming metropolis of Tuna, TX, the fictional “third-smallest” town in the state. A Tuna Christmas, which debuted in 1989, is the second in a series of four comedic plays, preceded by Greater Tuna, and followed by Red, White and Tuna and Tuna Does Vegas. The plays offer a satirical, affectionate comment on small-town, Southern life and attitudes, and are most notable in that two men play the entire cast of over twenty eccentric characters of both genders and various ages. Each play stands on its own and they do not need to be seen in sequential order. A Tuna Christmas has garnered many award nominations, including a Tony Award nomination for Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Play (Jaston Williams) in 1995, and won Joe Sears the Los Angeles Dramalogue Award for Best Actor in 1993.
Our preview performance for A Tuna Christmas will be at 7:30pm on Thursday, December 5th ($5 per ticket at door only–no reservations). The show will officially open on Friday, December 6th at 8pm, followed immediately by a post-show reception with the cast and crew, sponsored by Olive Garden-North Arlington. Performances will continue through December 22nd on Thursdays at 7:30pm, Fridays and Saturdays at 8pm, Saturdays and Sundays at 2pm and Sundays at 5:30pm.
Theatre Arlington’s production, directed by Jim Johnson, features Eric Dobbins and Shane Strawbridge, who will each play a total of eleven characters each. Eric will play Tuna town favorites Didi Snavely, Petey Fisk, Charlene Bumiller and Vera Carp, to name a few. And Shane will play the colorful characters of Thurston Wheelis, Bertha Bumiller, Aunt Pearl Burras and Joe Bob Lipsey, among others. This show marks the third time that Dobbins and Strawbridge have worked together as a comedy duo. The first, Seven in One Blow, was named as the critic’s choice for best show of the year by FW Weekly in 2011. Their second pairing, The 39 Steps, was showered with accolades including awards for best show and best actor. Production team members for A Tuna Christmas include Seth Johnson (Stage Manager), Tony Curtis (Set Design), Lyle Huchton (Costume Designer), Eddie Floresca (Costume Coordinator), Bryan Stevenson (Lighting Desgin) and Zach Thompson (Sound Design).
About the Play
Radio station OKKK news personalities Thurston Wheelis and Arles Struvie report on various Yuletide activities, including hot competition in the annual lawn display contest. In other news, voracious Joe Bob Lipsey’s production of A Christmas Carol is jeopardized by unpaid electric bills. Many colorful Tuna denizens, some you will recognize and some here for the first time, join the holiday festivities! While the show is not dirty, it is a bit naughty and irreverent in its fun. The plot of A Tuna Christmas centers on the town’s annual Christmas Yard Display Contest, won 14 times in a row by Vera Carp. A mysterious “Christmas Phantom,” known for vandalizing the yard displays, threatens to throw the contest into turmoil. Among the subplots are Stanley Bumiller’s attempts to end his probation and leave Tuna, Bertha Bumiller trying to hold her family together at Christmastime, and Joe Bob Lipsey’s struggle to mount successfully his production of A Christmas Carol despite numerous vexations and obstacles.
About the Playwrights
Ed Howard is the co-author of the plays Greater Tuna, A Tuna Christmas, Red, White and Tuna, and Tuna Does Vegas, all published by Samuel French. He also co-authored Splendora based on the novel by Edward Swift, and book and lyrics of the musicals The Body Snatchers and Boy Problems. He is presently at work on the play The Landscaper about a conservative cul-de-sac neighborhood and a mysterious immigrant from Central America.
Jaston Williams is co-author and co-star of Greater Tuna, A Tuna Christmas, Red, White and Tuna and Tuna Does Vegas. Mr. Williams has been creating the citizens of Tuna since 1982. The performances have played on and off Broadway at the Kennedy Center, the Edinburgh International Arts Festival, the Spoleto Festival USA, and all over America. He has received Washington DC’s Helen Hayes Award nominations for A Tuna Christmas and Red, White and Tuna as well as the San Francisco Bay Area Critics Award for Greater Tuna. Mr. Williams received the L.A. Dramalogue Award for both Greater Tuna and A Tuna Christmas. A Tuna Christmas was published in “Best Plays of 1995.” His latest autobiographical play Cowboy Noises premiered in Austin in February 2008 to critical acclaim.
Joe Sears is co-author and co-star of Greater Tuna, A Tuna Christmas, Red, White and Tuna and Tuna Does Vegas. Mr. Sears has been touring extensively with the Tuna productions since 1982. His sixth tour of A Tuna Christmas included his Broadway debut for which he received a 1995 Tony Award-nomination for Best Actor in a Play. The first record-breaking year included a command performance for President and Mrs. George Bush at the White House. Mr. Sears’ Washington, DC engagement of A Tuna Christmas earned him his third nomination for the Helen Hayes Award for Best Actor. A Tuna Christmas was also nominated for Best Play. Mr. Sears also received nominations in 1984 and 1988 for the Helen Hayes Award for his performance in Greater Tuna. He originated these roles off-Broadway when Greater Tuna premiered in 1982 and has performed in the highly successful national tours, and received a Los Angeles Dramalogue Award for his writing and performance of Greater Tuna. Mr. Sears received the 1993 Los Angeles Dramalogue Award for Best Actor in A Tuna Christmas. Mr. Sears also owns and operates Cody Stage, a summer stock theatre company in Cody, WY.
About the Director
Jim Johnson has been singing, acting or clowning around for as long as anyone can remember. Born in Dallas, he migrated west with his family to Arlington, and is a graduate of Lamar High School. No stranger to the Theatre Arlington stage, Jim is finally adding Director to his list of credits. He has appeared at theaters all over north Texas, and is represented in the area of Broadcast Television, Film, and Commercial Voice Over, by the Mary Collins Agency. He is also a proud member of Actors’ Equity Association, the professional union of Actors and Stage Managers.
About Theatre Arlington
For over 40 years, Theatre Arlington, located in the heart of Arlington, Texas, has provided the community with high-quality, award-winning theatrical productions to more than 30,000 patrons, while running a year-round theatre school and outreach programs for at risk youth.
Photos are available upon request. The approximate running time is two hours and fifteen minutes (including a 15 minute intermission) and it is recommended for mature audiences due to language and adult themes. Tickets are $20. See website for more information – www.TheatreArlington.org.