Patrick B. McGuigan
The news from Tuna, Texas is as relevant and laugh-out-loud humorous as ever, but leavened with some moments of pathos and pity.
Working from the original script of Jaston Williams, Joe Sears and Ed Howard, a total of twenty characters came on stage, miraculously brought to life through only two performers: Jonathan Beck Reed and Donald Jordan.
Once again “Greater Tuna” has been transported to the performance space of the Freede Little Theatre at The Civic Center Music Hall (201 N .Walker Ave, Oklahoma City, OK 73102.)
The story’s themes and characters might press the buttons of some attendees, but by and large this is a story about people and places we likely all know. Some of the people of Tuna meet every stereotype of ignorance and lack of sympathy assigned to certain rural enclaves.
But Tuna is also a place of women and men with memories of lost love, and promises unmet, opportunities unpursued, love unrequited.
And if you think “fake news” was invented in the last couple of years, listen closely to the radio broadcast’s of Tuna’s tiny station.
There are quite serious moments in “Greater Tuna,” but for the most part the idea behind the script is to be slightly over the top, to make you laugh, and perhaps to reflect on a thing or two or three.
At the curtain call the night we saw the show, Jordan delivered an appropriate moment of homage to the dressers – David Mays, Michael J. Greene, Kris Scinski, Jon-Philip Olson and Heidi Sue Wallace. It boggles the mind to imagine the layers of clothing and/or rapid change artistry that is required from the “Tuna” stories.
Ben Hall’s set design employs perfectly the stage, and Tristan Decker’s lighting design is wondrous (a favorite moment being the imagined, or perhaps not, arrival of friendly aliens of the “close encounters” sort.
Then there are the costumes. The old Superman flicks challenged us to believe “a man can fly.” Well, Danielle Trebus’ costumes designs make you believe Don Jordan is a woman, and Jon Reed is a little girl. Deft work, that – the magnificence of the performers aside, for the moment.
Steve Emerson, himself a great actor, directed and did the sound design. Nicely done.
Other technical support came from Janna Carr (wigs), Kory Kight-Pagala, Whitney Hendricks, Michael Jones, Scott C. Hynes, Jonathan Olson, Marcellus Hankins, Anna Holloway, and Sheridan McMichael.
If this is indeed the swan song with these parts for Re
ed and Jordan, they got a nice start on St. Patrick’s evening, when Oklahoma City Mayor-elect David Holt presented a gubernatorial proclamation to the Okahoma City Repertory Theatre and the pair of seasoned thespians.
Both confessed in pre-performance interviews that time takes its toll on even the skilled performers. To be clear, Reed was magnificent as a teenage boy, and a teenage girl. Jordan was fine as late middle-aged women, and aging men.You have to see it to believe it.
This was/is the 50th collaboration of the two men over the past 40 years.
As for seeing it yourself, many readers will get this printed edition in time for this weekend’s remaining performances:
Friday March 30, 7:30 p.m., Saturday Mar. 31, 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, April 1, 1:30 p.m.
The final lap begins Thursday, April 5 at 7:30 p.m., continuing Fri. April 6, 7:30 p.m., Sat. Apr 7, 7:30 p.m. and Sun. Apr. 8, 1:30 p.m.
Tickets are $8 for Students, Teachers and Military Personnel (with ID), $25 (groups of eight or more), $35 (matinees) and $40 (evening performances), and may be purchased by calling the Civic Center Box Office at (405) 297-2264 or online at cityrep.com. Don’t forget, “Greater Tuna” is appropriately rated PG-13.
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William Shakespeare once said (and is cited in the show program), “I count myself in nothing else so happy as in a soul remembering my good friends.”
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