By Barbara Parker
TheatreWorks Community Players are celebrating Christmas in November with the comedy “A Tuna Christmas,” opening Nov. 14.
In February of 2010, TheatreWorks opened the Black Box Theatre in Uptown Martinsville with a sold-out production of Greater Tuna, featuring the residents of the third-smallest town in Texas. Now almost ten years later, the Tuna denizens return to the Black Box.
When asked why the production was scheduled before Thanksgiving, the answer was that the local Christmas parades are all before Thanksgiving, so why not?
The plot of A Tuna Christmas is simple – it’s Christmas in the third-smallest town in Texas, and radio station WAOK news personalities Thurston Wheelis and Arles Struvie report on various Yuletide activities, including the hot competition in the annual lawn-display contest and the antics of the Christmas Phantom. In other news, Joe Bob Lipsey’s production of A Christmas Carol is jeopardized by unpaid electric bills, which may affect Stanley Bumiller’s release from reform school probation.
Several actors who appeared in Greater Tuna are reprising their original roles in A Tuna Christmas, including Brian Williams as Arles Struvie, Betty Joe Fulcher Turner as Aunt Pearl Burras, and Max Hall as Stanley Bumiller. Many of the actors are playing multiple roles, and director Bryan Dunn, drama and forensics teacher at Magna Vista High School, used his cross-casting of male and female roles for maximum laughs.
Set designer Emma Weatherly, who has created sets for several Patriot Players productions as well as the Cabaret set for TheatreWorks, used her talents to design a set that resembles a promotional brochure for the town of Tuna and the folks who live there.
In addition to Dunn and Weatherly, the production staff includes Stage Manager Roslyn Simmons, Sound and Lighting Designer Tom Berry, and Costume Designer Barbara Parker. The cast of ten includes Don Grayson, Max Hall, Robbie Hendrix, Brayden Lynch, Maeve McCulloch, MacKenzie Morrison, Dee Dee Richardson, Betty Joe Fulcher Turner, Rick Ward, and Brian Williams.
A Tuna Christmas runs Nov. 14 through 16 and Nov. 2 through 22, with performances at 7 p.m.. Shows also are set on Nov. 23 at 7:30 p.m. and Nov. 24 at 2 p.m. at the Black Box Theatre, 44 Franklin Street in Uptown Martinsville.
Tickets are available at the MHC Visitors Center at New College Institute and online at www.twcp.net. The production is rated PG for language and content.
Season sponsors are Martinsville Surgical Associates and Dignity Collins & McKee-Stone.