Everybody was raised on Tuna! Well if you were raised in Texas you were raised on what makes up Tuna, TX in this madcap comedy by Joe Sears, Jaston Williams, and Ed Howard. Greater Tuna, is the first in the Tuna “Trilogy” that is actually now a Quad… There is “Greater Tuna,”” Red, White, and Tuna,” “Tuna Christmas,” and “Tuna Does Vegas.” These are some of my favorite plays because they are so iconic, hilarious and truly relatable to folks who grew up in small Texas towns.
Everyone has an Aunt Pearl, knows a Bertha Bumiller, or a Dee Dee Snavely and while we laugh at and with them we love them. That is exactly why I love “Great Tuna” and the production by The Wimberley Players. Director Aaron Johnson has done a great job of crafting a show that is packed full of over 20 characters all played by 2 talented Actors. Mr. Johnson has helped his actors who have created characters that are each unique but still have some amount of homage to the original characterizations of these wacky citizens by Joe and Jaston who not only wrote the play but also performed in its original productions.
Will Mercer plays a slew of characters in this fun flashy comedy. One of my favorites is Bertha Bumiller, the classic mother of three with all the right pitches to the different yells and screams, and threats. Then Mercer pulls a 180 and gives us Thurston Wheeless the butch country radio host, as well as the threatening Klan Leader with his public service announcements. Mercer shows he is a talented actor without a nervous bone and willing to go as far as he needs to go to get a laugh! Kudos to him for all of his bravery and for his truly unique characters. At times we forget that Mercer is playing the multiple roles!
To counter Will Mercer’s Characters is R. Michael Clinkscales, who if Mercer is Brave, Clinkscales is straight up fearless. Clinkscales shines in the multiple children of Bertha, Jody, Stanley and best of all Charlene the tarnished cheerleader wannabe. Clinkscales soars in his ability to change characters on a dime and keep them all different from one another. His shining moments however are as the busybody Vera Carp and her small town know it all persona! Only to be topped by his portrayal of Petey Fisk from the Greater Tuna Humane Society! Fisk is so genuine in his love of all animals big or small yet he is just a few feathers short of a full chicken!
Technically this show is a nightmare to produce because of the split second costume changes and the sheer amount of work it takes to make that work. However the Wimberley players succeeds with this task. There are a few moments where the changes take a little longer than I would like, it makes the audience wonder if there is a problem with the costume changes.
However despite that small concern this is a show that will be on the top of my list for a long time! Both actors give a stand out performance and make me want to get up and do it with them! Long Live Tuna!
This show receives a 5 out of 5 stars for the sheer amount of work and the incredible amount of talent on the stage! Well done all! Greater Tuna runs through May 17 at the Wimberley Playhouse. For tickets and more information click HERE!