This Thursday, January 11th marks my return to Rivertown Theaters for the Performing Arts, as once again I help provide the on-stage musical accompaniment to the month-long production of "Greater Tuna." I'll be joined by Scott Frilot and Sherri Montz (Ginger and the Bee) and by longtime friend and collaborator Chris Finney. See the pic above for the dates, and get your tickets now at www.rivertowntheaters.com.
"Where the Lion's Club is too liberal and Patsy Cline never dies!"
1/15/2019 UPDATE: Below is the review of "Greater Tuna" from NOLA.com!
By Theodore P. Mahne, NOLA.com
"Greater Tuna" has been a popular property on local stages for nearly 25 years. Along with shows like "Nunsense," while the humor of "Tuna" is basically a one-note affair, it has resulted in repeated productions, as well as several sequels, all of which draw reliable audiences.
In fact, the show was the first piece of theater staged in the metropolitan area after Hurricane Katrina. Sean Patterson and Gary Rucker starred in it then, and have now returned to the roles with a revival on the mainstage at the Rivertown Theaters for the Performing Arts.
By now, many of the laughs of "Greater Tuna" are familiar, if not always riotously so. As one of the best comic partnerships in local theater, Rucker and Patterson play off of one another so well that the quirky characters generally are in good hands.
For those unfamiliar with it, the comedy by Jaston Williams, Joe Sears and Ed Howard is set in the tiny fictional town of Tuna, Texas. The eccentric, inept citizenry we encounter range from a pair of good ol' boy radio disc jockeys and a dopey Humane Society worker to a drunken UFOlogist and family of utter bumpkins. The trick is that all 20 characters - men, women and dog - are played by Patterson and Rucker through a series of quick changes between scenes.
Among the funniest moments are the scenes in which Rucker and Patterson directly interact with one another. Opening as a pair of down-home, laid-back DJs who would make Garrison Keillor seem like a shock jock, they establish the aw-shucks tone of much of the comedy.
Other comic highlights include Rucker as the pitifully compassionate but dumb Humane Society employee Petey Fisk, and as Vera Carp, the town snob and leader of the anti-pornography organization, the Smut Snatchers. Patterson shows off his comic chops most effectively as Pearl Burras, an old biddy whose hobby is poisoning local dogs, and as the crusading Rev. Spikes.
The redneck humor with some of the characters hasn't aged well. At points, it seems unclear if the audience is laughing at these small-minded figures or cheering them on.
Kate Jensen's appropriately fuddy-duddy costumes help establish the varied characters of the town. Eric Porter's simple set provides ample playing space for the performers.
The onstage band, Squirrel Crossing, provided the pre-show music and pleasing, Patsy Cline-inspired interludes between scenes. Perched overhead and upstage, the band is comprised of Chris Finney, Scott Frilot, Sherri Montz, and Ted Torres.