There’s something fishy in the town of Greater Tuna, and it’s not just its name. All of the citizens of this West Texas town appear to have been cut from one of just two molds, as if inbreeding has led to a kind of genetic repetition. This genetic repetition might also be the cause of the quirky personalities and outlandish behaviors that seem to be a part of everything that goes on there.
Frequent theatre patrons will recognize “Greater Tuna” as the laugh-bonanza creation of Jaston Williams, Joe Sears, and Ed Howard in which two actors portray over twenty male and female denizens of the town where sophistication is as unwelcome as napkins at the dinner table. The show is being given an entertaining and well-cast treatment at The Dio – Dining and Entertainment in Pinckney.
“Tuna” is a series of related sketches held together by the on-air voices of Arles Struvie (Nick Pettengill) and Thurston Wheelis (Jared Schneider), who pump out all of the news, weather and local chatter that’s important (and much that isn’t) on radio station OKKK. The characters of this thinly plotted comedy include reform schooler Stanley Bumiller (Pettengill), who may have been responsible for the death of the judge who sent him away; Sheriff Givens (Schneider), a law and order cop who would sooner send you to jail than give you the time of day; Vera Carp (Pettengill), vice president of the organization “Smut-Snatchers of the New Order”, and yes, even the word “snatch”, which graces their letterhead, is on the short list of words that stand to be expurgated from the dictionaries of the local library; and R.R. Snavelly (Schneider) whose interest in UFO’s and alcohol (not in that order) could soon be validated by a visit from some unexpected visitors.
“Greater Tuna” and the franchise that it spawned with shows like “Red, White, and Tuna”, “Tuna Does Vegas”, and “A Tuna Christmas” are always great fun and this is one funny show. The Dio’s production directed by Steve DeBruyne is anchored by two terrific performances. Frequent Dio cast member Jared Schneider has finally secured a role where his considerable talents don’t get lost in an ensemble cast. He has an exceptional flair for characterization, moves effortlessly between different vocalizations, and brings down the house when dressed in drag. Pettengill’s comedy is somewhat more subtle, accomplished with crafty eye movements and facial expressions. His Vera Carp is reminiscent of Dana Carvey‘s Church Lady, and his similar facial structure show flashes of being able to do an exceptional Stan Laurel. The thought occurs that Pettengill and Schneider together as Laurel and Hardy would make for a memorable comedy tribute.
Matt Tomich does set, lighting and sound design while costumes come courtesy of Nancy Koppin. Chef Jarod’s menu for this show includes his Signature Fried Chicken, Broccoli Salad, Glazed Carrots, and as might be expected, a Baked Tuna Casserole. The buffet is available before the show begins while dessert is served at the intermission of this almost two-hour show. “Greater Tuna” runs through August 21st. For tickets and information call 1.517.672.6009 or go online to www.diotheatre.com. The Dio – Dining and Entertainment is located at 177 E. Main Street in downtown Pinckney.