Red, White and Tuna, the third installment of the Tuna trilogy written and performed by Joe Sears and Jaston Williams, finishes up its California stint as the show arrives at San Francisco’s Marines Memorial Theatre, March 22-April 8. The show had its southern California premiere Jan. 28-Feb. 13 at the La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts.
Sears and Williams achieved national prominence 15 years ago when they first introduced the denizens of Tuna -- Texas' "third smallest town" -- in Greater Tuna, which became a long-running success thanks to their deft comic dialogue and timing, multiple characterizations and split-second costume changes. That was followed by A Tuna Christmas, which played two Command Performances at the White House and went on to be performed more than a thousand times around the country, including a brief Broadway stint.
In the latest Tuna saga, Sears and Williams recreate the Tuna High School Reunion and bring to life 21 of the attendees, who range from chain smoking Didi Snaveley and her UFO-seeking boyfriend to the hymn-singing Smut Snatchers and the hormonally-charged Tastee Kreme girls.
Williams explained to Dallas writer Rita Faye Smith that the idea for Greater Tuna came about in 1981 and grew out of a party skit in Austin. "We had a friend in Austin who gave great parties and always invited lots of theatre people and would ask us to perform, so we went upstairs and created this impromptu skit. We knew from the reaction it was good enough to go in a cabaret setting." The show later reached Austin's Trans Act Theatre and Off-Broadway's Circle-In-The-Square. The sequel, A Tuna Christmas, opened on Broadway in 1994 and earned a 1995 best actor Tony nomination for Sears. The current Tuna is produced by Charles H. Duggan.
Tickets are $30-$50. The Marines Memorial Theatre is located at 609 Sutter Street. For information on Red, White and Tuna, call (877) 771-6900. -- By David Lefkowitz
and Willard Manus