Tuna Does Vegas

Albany Civic Theatre

Tuna Does Vegas is hilarious! Directed by Lance Duddlesten, starring Gary Burris and Chuck Skinner, and a HUGE tech crew to make all the moving parts work smoothly, this show had the audience laughing and groaning in all the right places. The play is written for two male actors who must bring 18 characters to life…all with quick costume changes, wigs, accents, and skill. Burris and Skinner live up to the task bringing energy, comedy, and expert level skill in making each character they play distinct. Not just with costumes and such but the distinct behaviors, speech tempo, and movement. They held this together the entire show making for a great night at the theatre.

The story begins with Arles and Thurston, who while hosting their small town radio show, announce that Arles and his wife Bertha are going to Las Vegas to renew their wedding vows. Well, hold on to your seats because once the announcement is made, the eccentric townspeople of Tuna, Texas decide they need to go to Vegas, too!

The townspeople played by Gary Burris include Thurston -radio host, Bertha- Arles’ wife, Aunt Pearl- Bertha’s Aunt, Leonard- Vegas hotel owner, Inita- diner waitress, Joe Bob- a community theatre director, Shot- hotel security, and Elvis 11. I don’t want to give away too much about these characters as you have to see them for yourself. Burris gives each character something to like and root for, especially the tenderness he captures in his scenes as Bertha. He seems comfortable onstage playing these cast of characters and was fun to watch.

The townspeople played by Chuck Skinner include Arles-radio host, Didi-a gun shop owner, Petey-an animal right activist, Charlene- Bertha’s daughter, Vera- smut police, Helen-diner waitress, Anna- hotel desk clerk/owner, Maurice-hairdresser, Wo Hu- acupuncturist, and Elvis 42. Skinner is right at home morphing into the large cast of characters he is assigned to play, using the stage as a playground for movement, and with cheeky comedic timing. He plays some of the more “colorful” townspeople of Tuna and does so with precision.

This show depends on a smoothly run crew of dressers (three for each actor!) and set changers which overall ran pretty smoothly from the audience perspective. (I know what it’s like to be a dresser in the wings. You have to be fast and a clear plan of what comes off while other items are going on in a short amount of time.) This show has to accomplish a lot in a short amount of time and they pulled it off fantastically. ๐Ÿ™‚ Lance Duddlesten has quite the task of blocking and timing to make scenes work and transitions between locations run smoothly as well as give clear direction and notes to keep each character distinct and lovable. It’s obvious to me, he did is job well and the audience from Friday night, I know agree, based on all the laughter I heard.

I met with Burris and Skinner after the show. They were approachable and appreciative of the positive feedback they received from audience who stayed behind to give them kudos. They worked so hard and deserve the accolades and praise given by audience goers.

According to Lance Duddlesten, Burris and Skinner were the stars of previous Tuna installments, “A Tuna Christmas” and “Red, White and Blue Tuna”. Mat Genuser, the director of “A Tuna Christmas” consulted on this production as well as provide one of the voices for the show. When I asked if there was anything he wanted the community to know about the show, he said he wished the audience could see the “well-scripted chaos” backstage and that watching behind the scenes is almost as much fun as watching from the audience! He says he “can’t honestly see anyone else playing the parts”. He’s very proud of the cast and crew and hopes people come to the show!

Do yourself a favor and go this show before it closes! You’ll be so happy you did ๐Ÿ™‚ Watch a preview below and click HERE for tickets and showtimes.

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