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Lazy Susan Dinner Theatre Greater Tuna

By • Aug 18th, 2010 • Category: Reviews
Greater Tuna
Lazy Susan Dinner Theatre
Lazy Susan Dinner Theatre, Lorton, VA
Through September 19
2:20 with one intermission
$41.95-$44.95/$35 Ages 11-15/$25 Children 10 and under
Reviewed August 15th, 2010

Greater Tuna is a series of vignettes centered around radio station OKKK in the podunk town of Tuna, Texas. There is no Tuna, Texas in real life, but one thing that is real are the laughs generated by the two characters Thurston Wheelis and Arles Struvie who in turn each play nine different members of the Tuna community.

All of the characters in the play were played by actors Robert Biedermann and Matthew Randall, or by Lyle Smythers and Jeffrey Davis. The performance we attended featured Biedermann and Randall. Their opening morning news report set the tone for the first act and though they had a nice speaking style and timing, they still seemed a bit stiff towards each other, as if they had to warm up some to each other’s style. Both succeeded in making each of their other characters fairly unique. Randall had different body language and mannerisms when he moved from Charlene to Stanley which made the roles all the more believable and humorous. Biedermann managed to change, too, but it was not as believable. There were a few extended scenes when a character’s lines were apparently played from a recording while the actors were offstage. I’m not sure if that was to allow for an extended costume change, but it did slow the show’s pace and minimize the humor.

The second act allowed the actors to settle into their roles a bit more . That and a long 30 minute intermission allowed the two men to have better timing and rhythm in the second act. The crowd also seemed more responsive the first act and then perhaps tired once the newness of the “shtick” comedy wore off. The two men did an excellent job of improving the various props such as a dog leash for poor Yippy and the news reports and papers at the radio station broadcast booth. They were handled as if they were real.

The set was fairly static, wih only a few pieces, such as the table, chairs and oversized radio moving onstage. The very wide stage was used well, with most of the action taking plce at the center, although when the house is very full audience memebrs sitting on the far left and right will have a difficult time seeing the show. One creative set piece was the outhouse that allowed for costume changes to be made, as well as allowing for the characters to exit. There were some interesting lighting choices made that at times seemed to make the dark theatre even darker, especially on stage right as several scenes the actors were not in any light at all. The Lighting Designer was Jeanne Forbes.

With its small cast and only using the center area of the stage I have to wonder if Greater Tuna was a wise decision for the Lazy Susan’s season. It seems that most dinner theater productions are larger casts and more elaborate sets.

This show is a comedy that pokes fun at mainstream everything and should be taken in that vein. (No pun intended). It is appropriate for ages 13 and up as it does humorously touch on some adult themes such as drug use and segregation.

Photo Gallery

Matthew Randall as Vera Carp (on table) Robert Biedermann as Sherriff Givens and Matthew Randall as Stanley Bumiller
Matthew Randall as Vera Carp (on table)
Robert Biedermann as Sherriff Givens and Matthew Randall as Stanley Bumiller
Matthew Randall as Arles Struvie and Robert Biedermann as Thurston Willlis
Matthew Randall as Arles Struvie and Robert Biedermann as Thurston Willlis

Photos provided by the Lazy Susan Dinner Theatre.

Cast

  • Team Tuna:
    • Thurston Wheelis, Elmer Watkins, Bertha Bumiller, Yippy, Leonard Childers, Pearl Burras, R. R. Snavely, Rev. Spikes, Sherrif Givens, Hank Bumiller: Lyle Smythers
    • Arles Struvie, Didi Snavely, Harold Dean Lattimer, Petey Fisk, Jody Bumiller, Charlene Bumiller, Stanely Bumiller, Chad Hartford, Phinas Blye, Vera Carp: Jeffrey Davis
  • Team Texas:
    • Thurston Wheelis, Elmer Watkins, Bertha Bumiller, Yippy, Leonard Childers, Pearl Burras, R. R. Snavely, Rev. Spikes, Sherrif Givens, Hank Bumiller: Robert Biedermann
    • Arles Struvie, Didi Snavely, Harold Dean Lattimer, Petey Fisk, Jody Bumiller, Charlene Bumiller, Stanely Bumiller, Chad Hartford, Phinas Blye, Vera Carp: Matthew Randall

Crew

  • Director: Frank Shutts II
  • Producers: Harold E. Gates
  • Glen D. Gates
  • Assistant to the Director: Mary Beth Smith-Toomey
  • Stage Manager: George Rouse
  • Lighting Designer: Jeanne Forbes
  • Costumers: Reggie M. Eusebio/Jennifer Pelath
  • Dressers: Reggie M. Eusebio, Samantha Nichols, Jennifer Pelath, George Rouse, Mary Beth Smith-Toomey
  • Scenic Painter: Myke Taister
  • Set Painting/Set Dressing: Karol Kaldenbach, Linda Shaw
  • Technical Staff: Jeanne Forbes, Jesse Forbes

Disclaimer: Lazy Susan Dinner Theatre provided two complimentary media tickets to ShowBizRadio for this review, which included dinner and the show. LSDT also covered our drink expense.

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started ShowBizRadio in August 2005 because they love live theater. They each have both performed in and worked behind the scenes in DC area productions, as well as earned a Career Studies Certificate in Theater from Northern Virginia Community College. Mike & Laura are each members of the American Theatre Critics Association, and Mike is a member of the Online News Association.

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