Pelican Playhouse takes on this little town in Texas in its current show — “Greater Tuna,” an over-the-top comedy set in Texas’ third-smallest town — which will debut this weekend, Sept. 6-8 and will followed with an encore performance next weekend, Sept. 13-15.
Directed by Kenneth N. Kurtiz with guest artist Christopher Chisholm, “Greater Tuna” is a hilarious two-man, 20-character comedy written by Jeston Williams, Joe Sears and Ed Howard.
It is set in the town of Tuna, Texas, specifically centering on Radio Station OKKK. The show opens with two radio DJs, Thurston Wheelis (Christopher Chisholm) and Arles Struvie (Ralph Wakefield), as they discuss daily events and happenings.
It then progresses into sketches about life in this rural Texan city, where the audience gets to meet the different characters of the town as they all take turns in scenes about their daily existence.
Broadway veterans Ralph Wakefield and Chris Chisholm play all 20 characters (and a few animals) and are joined by UM Professor Emeritus Ken Kurtz as artistic director to bring us this treat of a production right here in our own little Pelican Playhouse.
Chisholm and Wakefield take on the challenge of creating different characters out of all these different roles in Greater Tuna. The two actors run around stage, changing costumes in a matter of seconds, diving into each role as quickly as they can.
It’s the 1970s. Tuna residents are still stuck in the 1950s. It’s the type of town where everyone is well informed about everyone else's business. It is a character comedy that satirizes, lambastes and lampoons.
Ralph Wakefield is the artistic director of the Pelican Playhouse, and talked about the show and said the show was 30 years in the making.
“In 1983, Christopher Chisholm is my dear friend from the University of Miami and with whom I acted professionally with in New York City,” Wakefield said. “He and I both auditioned for this show from a theater that was out of Detroit, Mich., the Attic Theater. Although hundreds of actors auditioned for this great play, we got the parts. We were thrilled!
“When we got the schedule of performances there were two performances scheduled for Christmas Day. My mother, rest her soul, would have had a conniption fit, as they say in Tuna.
“I said we needed Christmas off. They said, take it or leave it and we left it. It’s my only regret in my theatrical career, that we did not go to Detroit. I think it was God’s will 30 years later here in Miami Springs at the Pelican Playhouse.
“We have flown Christopher Chisholm in from Los Angeles, where he has been a hugely successful actor. He and I are finally getting to do this much-anticipated play, which is more fun than Christmas.”
Chisholm, who is absolutely delighted to be here, said, “Doing ‘Tuna’ is a thrill because I believe it’s one of the funniest comedy plays, just straight-out comedy, that I’ve ever read and ever done. ‘Tuna’ is a comedy ‘tour de farce.’ You’ve got two actors playing 20 different roles, including men, women, children and even a couple of animals.
“Not only is it a tremendously funny play that does satirize rednecks in the South, which everybody can relate to, I get to co-star with one of my best friends in life that I have known since I was 18 years old.