By Amber Nore
TADA Theatre, Thursday August 11, 2022
I had the pleasure of seeing the hilarious show Greater Tuna performed by Stuart Richey and Michael Trutna at The TADA Theatre on opening night. It was a joyful experience of non-stop belly laughter with a sold-out theatre crowd.
Greater Tuna is one of a series of four comedic plays set in the fictional town of Tuna, Texas (the “third-smallest” town in the state) written by Jaston Williams, Joe Sears and Ed Howard. It is a stand-alone show, part comedy and part satire, in which all of the almost two dozen characters are portrayed by only two actors. In this production, those two actors are Stuart Richey and Michael Trutna.
Richey is billed as playing “Arles Struvie (and more),” Struvie being the jovial radio co-host of OKKK Radio for Tuna, TX. The “and more” summing up what I counted to be at least nine other characters, including: Petey Fisk of the Tuna Humane Society; Phinas Blye, political candidate; Vera Carp, vice president of the Smut Snatchers of the New Order, and wanna-be cheerleader Charlene Bumiller.
Trutna is billed as playing “Thurston Wheeler (and more)”, Wheeler as the stalwart co-host on OKKK Radio for Tuna, Tx. The “and more” here being, like Richey, at least 8 other characters including The Reverend Spikes; RR Snavely, the town UFO aficionado; the sweet-faced but dastardly Pearl Burras and Bertha Bumiller, also a member of the Smut Snatchers of the New Order.
Richey and Trutna give studied comedic performances as all of the characters. With a seamless blend of mannerisms, physicality and quick-change costuming, they elicited laugh after laugh from the sold-out crowd. They played off of each other flawlessly, and it was evident that they were having just as much fun onstage as we were in the audience. Trutna’s “Bertha Bumiller” is really not to be missed and I will forever treasure seeing Richey’s “Charlene Bumiller” cheer on Tuna, TX. They are a dynamic duo that deliver scene-after-scene of comedy gold.
I have seen productions of this show that were scaled down (even pantomimed), but The TADA Theatre brought a delightful, colorful set and array of props and costumes to heighten the experience.
A show with this many quick-changes for sets, lighting and costumes absolutely cannot go off without a super stellar team, and that kudos goes to Ryan Kathman, Director; Elysia Ann Arntzen for Stage Management, Scenic Design by Jenna Williamson, Technical Coordination by Jon Cruse, Master Stage Carpentry by Kevin Welch, Lighting Design by Robert D. Rook and Costume Coordination by Karen Statham and Cris Rook. They all clearly had a love for this show and the charm it brings. That, combined with their mastery in each technical category and two accomplished and terrific actors to bring it to life, leaves a production that I cheerfully applaud. I encourage you to rush to the box office now for tickets to any performances that aren’t already sold out!
The TADA Theatre is a non-profit, award-winning “little theatre doing big things”, including bringing a wide variety of shows and collaborative productions to Lincoln. TADA is a performance outlet that has showcased Nebraska talent through a wide array of award-winning productions and regional premieres.
If You Go: Greater Tuna runs August 11-28 with performances on Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 7:30pm and a Sunday matinee at 2pm. The TADA Theatre is located at 701 P Street, Lincoln, NE 68508. For tickets, call (402) 4380 TADA (8232) or visit http://www.tadaproductions.info
Amber C. Nore is a singer/actress/writer who has performed locally with Angels Theatre Company, Pinewood Bowl and Lincoln Community Playhouse and nationally with Spokane Repertory Theatre and Rogue Players. She sings in the band Andy Pappas & Jukebox Gyro, the debut album “Inside Voices” is available on iTunes and Spotify. Her favorite role has been Stage Mom to her daughter, Chloe. Amber is the Community Relations Manager for Mosaic in Southeast Nebraska, a nonprofit healthcare agency that helps individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities achieve their hopes and dreams. She lives with her cat in an art gallery in the Haymarket and loves to support local businesses/music/events with her partner, Patrick.
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