CityRep is a well-respected company rampant with Oklahoma talent. Steve Emerson, Production Stage Manager and Director of “Greater Tuna” has the luxury of simply allowing Donald Jordan and Jonathan Beck Reed to lose themselves in characterization. In the late 1970’s Jaston Williams, Joe Sears and Ed Howard had fun creating “Greater Tuna” as a comic range of caricatures to perform. Under Emerson’s direction, Jordan and Reed develop these characters with depth and resourcefulness. While they are stereotypical in many ways, the 10 separate and distinct personalities each actor creates for “Greater Tuna” encompass a startling range of emotion and reality. “Greater Tuna” becomes, in this production, greater than a simple comedy and the complexity creates interesting pathos increasing the humor.
“Greater Tuna” tells the story of the small town of Tuna, Texas. Jordan and Reed divide the 20 personalities equally to tell the story of the people, still steeped in old prejudice and misunderstanding and fighting to maintain a semblance of dignity in a century whizzing by on the interstates. The action begins at the local AM Radio Station where two old codgers read the ‘pertinent’ news and farm reports. It is clear they know everyone in town. The action weaves between the station and various locales as they tell the poignant and slightly shocking town stories as a slice of life, representing all the characters, young and old, male and female, reverent and relevant.
The ‘yellow dog’ show crosses the line frequently and whether crossed, double crossed, cross-stitched, crossed over or crossed out “Greater Tuna” never flounders, although some of these cantankerous devils are a little fishy. Jordan and Beck certainly showcase their talents. As Director, Emerson leads them beautifully, but he also gathers the best of the best together for technical expertise. The Scenic Design by Theresa Furphy, Ben Hall and Jordan allow the different characters to move seamlessly in and out of the spaces and this is assisted by the Lighting Design of Kathrine Mitchell. Costumes are perfect for the characters and easy for Beck and Jordan to handle in their many incarnations thanks to Jeffrey Meek and Andy Wallach. Suzette Collins Sroufe as Properties Designer adds a great deal to the set. Kathryn Dicken is Assistant to the Director, Jerome Stevenson is Sound Consultant, Ben Hall is Assistant Stage Manager, and Anna Holloway is Dramaturg. Together they put on a show that gives us a laugh right when and where we need it the most.
“Greater Tuna” is showing at the Freede Theatre in the Civic Center Music Hall through June 16, however due to the Friday May 31st tragic tornado that show did not run. Therefore two Sunday evening performances are added to ensure that everyone gets to enjoy the show and the curtain time will be at 7:00 pm June 9 and June 16. For reservations, call the Civic Center Music Hall Box Office at 405-848-3761 or online at www.cityrep.com. This is one ticket to tickle your soggy hide in just the right places at just the right time.