Thursday, December 7, 2017

Navasota Theatre Alliance Brings Christmas Spirit with Hilarity in "A Tuna Christmas"

The mere mention that Navasota Theatre Alliance was staging "A Tuna Christmas" was sufficient impetus to grab tickets on whatever night they'd be available. Just a hint of the opportunity to enjoy this play made it a sold-out event for every performance before the debut. The brilliance of three creatives--Jaston Williams, Joe Sears, and Ed Howard--created the characters, and I do mean characters, of Tuna, Texas, and you'll meet a total of 22 characters (portrayed by just four actors) in "A Tuna Christmas."

Hilarious writing makes for some of the most rib-splitting monologues. Four actors, J. Paul Teel, Scott McDuffie, David Brown, and Kevin Parker offered their talents and created theatre magic. They were larger than life in dead-on delivery of rapid-fire dialogue so fast that it would bring a tear to Aaron Sorkin's eyes. Director Mark Taylor was perfect in capturing every aspect of this performance to stay true to the original.

If you're a veteran of Tuna, you know the slogan of Didi's Used Weapons, you know the cause that Petey Fisk makes his own, you know the names of the two girls at the Tasty Creme, and can't stop laughing every time they answer the phone.

J. Paul Teel as Arles Struvie and Scott McDuffie as Bertha Bumiller are brilliant, David Brown knocks it out of the park as all three children in the Bumiller family, and Kevin Parker as Farley (and Phoebe!) Burkhalter had people shaking with laughter.

J. Paul Teel as Petey Fisk said it well, "...Skunks are moody, raccoons are self-centered and wild hogs have a zero success rate as yard pets."

It's hard to pick a favorite character, but of all seven that J. Paul Teel portrayed, probably Didi Snively takes the will not be able to hold it together when she sings Christmas carols, dripping in long pauses for drags on her imaginary cigarettes...when she swears, I swear you are going to lose it.

I'd always heard what a great actor he is, but this was my first time to see him in action. Scott McDuffey expertly delivered the rapid speech of Thurston Wheelis, and yet he seemed like an entirely separate actor when portraying Aunt Pearl Burras.

Costuming was brilliant, hilarious, and you will just have to see for yourself, because I'm not giving a thing away for all the rest of the sold-out audiences to enjoy if they're Tuna newbies.

Staging was genius--sets were minimalist but convincing. Transitions between scenes were nothing short of expert. I've never seen knock down and set up move so fast, and it took only two people less than one minute between acts, barely enough time for costume changes you'd think.

After the show my friends and I decided that the beauty of the superb story tonight rested in the message that all of us who exist in a small town or separate microcosm of the universe live and work here, flawed as we are, gifted as we are, hopeful as we are, and sometimes just trying to get through the day know one thing to be the end of the road is always love, compassion, caring, understanding and...peace.

As Mark Taylor ends his show notes, the way Petey ends his Christmas PSA, ..."Peace on Earth, good will to everybody. I never get tired of hearing that." Neither do we, Petey. Neither do we.

Bad news: This show is sold out. 100%. Every night from here forward. All you can do is get to the theatre and pray someone is a no show. By the way, snow didn't stop anyone from getting to the theatre on time. Every seat was filled.

Special thanks to the primary sponsor of this show, Trinity Heads, Inc. in Navasota--if you've ever set foot in a chemical plant, you know that a head is an expertly designed and manufactured pressure vessel cover...Trinity Heads leads the industry and they're based right there in Navasota. Additional funding came from the Hotel Tax Revenue funded through the City of Navasota through their Arts Council of Navasota. Many individuals contribute from $35 to over $5,000 a year supporting this organization.

Special recognition is due to Navasota city leaders (and the Navasota Grimes County Chamber of Commerce) for making their population of around 7500 blow the doors off the arts...nonprofits are thriving there. You know there's something special when people will drive 30-40 mins from here to be there. They also host their annual state-of-the-art legendary Navasota Blues Festival there. Don't look now, but they are doing some serious trailblazing over there. B-CS is truly grateful for everything they offer to all of us to enjoy. You keep doing what you're doing and we'll drive over to be with you for it. We will, we will.

To join the group of people who loves what they're doing, visit Navasota Theatre Alliance and Tuna, Texas-- a winning combination.

It is. It is. It is. It is. ....It is! Bravo to all.

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