“Hello! And welcome to OKKK Radio!”
Those are the opening words of “Tuna Does Vegas,” by Jaston Williams, Joe Sears and Ed Howard.
This third offering of the “Tuna” chronicles is just as off-beat funny as the previous two. Herein, the residence of the third smallest town of the state of Texas are reunited in never-ending misadventures when OKKK Radio host, Arles Struvie, announces that he is taking his wife, Bertha Bumiller, to Vegas to renew their wedding vows.
The whole town’s dysfunctional residents decide to join them on their mishap journey for a total of 19 travelers.
Director Fred Metzger decided to assign all 19 roles to only six Theatre students – what a good decision that was.
These talented young thespians do a terrific job of keeping the characters different and easily recognizable by body actions and voice.
The play is acted out in the intimate black-box theatre on a modular set designed by Jim Butler, who also does the light and sound design. The set works quite well for this show. Upon opening, center stage is the OKKK Radio Station, complete with old-fashioned mikes; the whole set revolves and furniture is brought on during a dim-out to turn the station into the Struvie kitchen. Left and right stage areas are designated for characters’ monologues and phone calls. Center stage is changed several times to reveal different scenes, including airplane seating, a hotel lobby, the front seat of a truck, and more. .
These changes are deftly accomplished in very short time by an excellent Running Crew of just two, Tylar Farnsworth and Donny Anderson – quite professional and well done.
The myriad of costumes are nicely done by Joanne Kirley. Extra kudos to Stage Manager Terri Clay who helps keep the costumes and characters straight back stage.
The cast expertly changes costume or hair, accent or facial expressions at the drop of a character, creating a new persona flawlessly.
Grace Galicia plays both male and female roles of Inita, Petey, Vera and Didi and does each part equally well.
Jonny Barrett is Arles, Joe-Bob, Elvis 11 and Shot. The only male in the group, Barrett is good in all parts; however, he excels as Elvis 11.
Courtney Lampier also plays mixed-gender roles of Helen, WoHu, Charlene and Maurice. Lampier’s Helen characterization is perfect.
Lupe Sanchez is Pearl, Thurston, Leonard and Elvis 42. Sanchez’s Pearl is so much like Gilda Radner’s old lady on Laugh-in it’s wonderful. Her Elvis 42 is a real hoot.
Jazmine Herrington is Bertha and Anna. Herrington has only the two roles; however, they are the two largest parts of the show and she in entirely different in each. Her Bertha is a typical dysfunctional citizen of Tuna and her hotel greeter, Anna, is a gas.
Off-stage voices are done by set designer Butler, who does Carlotta, the Pilot, TV Voices, Colonel Sprayberry and Perry.
As with all Pierce productions, “Tuna” has a very short run – only one more weekend, Friday and Saturday February 28 and March 1 at 7 p.m. at the College Theatre Studio 320 in the Cascade Building on the Fort Steilacoom campus at 9401 Farwest Drive in Lakewood. Ticket prices are more than reasonable at $3 for General Admission and $2 for Students. Reservations may be made by calling the theatre at (253) 964-6710.
“Tuna Does Vegas” is pure escapism and offers a view of a life–style you’ll be so happy isn’t yours. One more note: the scene with the two Elvis impersonators comes toward the end of the show but is surely one of the best – a joy to watch and well worth the wait.