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Wednesday, July 18,2012

Return of the Texas twosome

Williamston Theatre catches another 'Tuna'

by Holly Johnson

It’s summertime in Tuna, the third smallest town in Texas, and residents are eager to celebrate the Fourth of July Reunion and Fireworks display.

There’s a reunion on the Williamston Theatre stage as well: Actors Aral Gribble and Wayne David Parker are once again playing a cross-section of the Tuna population (some 20 kooky characters in all) in the two-person quick-change comedy “Red, White and Tuna.” 

“Red, White and Tuna” is a sequel to “Greater Tuna,” which Williamston produced in the fall of 2010. Written by Jaston Williams, Joe Sears and Ed Howard, the frenzied comedic series (other “Tuna” productions include “A Tuna Christmas” and “Tuna Does Vegas”) has been a box office bonanza for theaters across the country during the past 30 years; “Greater Tuna” remains one of Williamston Theatre’s biggest draws to date. 

So the company couldn’t resist continuing the “Tuna” series this summer.

What keeps the audience yearning for more “Tuna”? Gribble credits its satire of small-town America, combined with the relevance of the play’s characters to its audience members.

“Whether we like it or not, there are a lot of characters that we all relate to or we all know,” he said.

He also says it’s pretty fun to watch two dudes perform onstage in dresses. 

Director John Lepard says Williamston’s previous success with “Greater Tuna” is directly related to Gribble and Parker. “When you get two guys together that are that funny, it’s hard not to draw a crowd,” he said. 

Gribble said “Red, White and Tuna” is a “completely different kind of show.” Viewers can expect to see flower children, taxidermists, Humane Society employees and radio personalities. You might think having that much “Tuna” on your plate would be difficult to convey, but Gribble said the challenge was fun and rehearsals were even better. 

“I’ve never seen more work get done while two people were goofing around in my life,” he said.

The Williamston crew even had the idea of charging people to watch the rehearsals because of how funny they were. After about a week of figuring out how to differentiate each character, Gribble and Parker spent the last chunk of rehearsals perfecting the quick costume changes in the hopes of achieving perfect comedic timing. 

Williamston Theatre plans on producing “Tuna Gone Vegas” next summer, with Gribble and Parker playing opposite each other once again. 

´Red, White and Tuna´

Williamston Theatre

122 S. Putnam St., Williamston

Preview 8 p.m. Thursday, July 19; all seats $15

Friday, July 20 through Aug. 19: 8 p.m. Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays; 2 p.m. Sundays; 3 p.m. July 28, Aug. 4, 11 and 18.

$20 Thursdays; $25 Fridays and Saturday evenings; $22 Saturday matinees and Sundays; $10 students with ID; $2 off any show for seniors 65 and over

(517) 655-7469

www.williamstontheatre.com

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