Greater Tuna | The Long Center for the Performing Arts

Tuna Man Show — Greater Tuna is All-New & Reimagined by Co-Creator Jaston Williams

The eclectic citizens of small-town Texas return to their big-city home.

Didi. Petey. Pearl. You know them well. There’s every possibility that they might even be your neighbors. Tuna is back.

The raging satire of small-town Texas from creators Joe Sears and Jaston Williams is returning home. Their signature brand of quick costume and character changes without missing a beat started on 6th street more than 30 years ago before spreading to sold-out shows across the country and lodging itself in the national consciousness.

For Long Center Production Supervisor Ken Huncovsky, Greater Tuna is essentially what brought him to Austin. He was introduced to the original show in the mid-1980s in San Francisco and then as Sound Designer for “A Tuna Christmas” in 1989. One thing led to another, and Ken was suddenly in the position of Tour Operator for the national tour.

He calls it “the perfect play. It was clear. It was poignant, and still is. Every word has weight. That plus warmth, character, humor — and all under two hours!” With the unexpected, explosive popularity of “Greater Tuna’s” run at Austin’s Paramount Theatre, Ken says the greatest challenge they had was getting the actors to slow their line delivery in order to accommodate the powerful audience laughter at their sold-out shows. “People would literally scream” he said.

“Half the fun of the play is seeing the actors play multiple roles,” said Paul Beutel, the Long Center’s Senior Programming Manager. “The lightning fast costume changes they pull off — going from a no-nonsense sheriff one minute to a beleaguered housewife the next is part of the charm.” Paul admits that while the play pokes fun at small-town Texas and the narrow worldviews often found therein, “it also shows these people as lovable human beings, aware of their flaws and struggling just to get on with life like the rest of us. Texans are a tough lot, but we can be funny as hell.”

Though the actors have changed over the years and the casting has expanded from a two-man show to a three-man show, original actor and co-creator Jaston Williams is returning to direct this production. “Joe and Jaston created many indelible characters,” says Paul. “And now that they’ve retired from performing in the shows, it will be exciting to see how Jaston, as director, guides a new cast through this classic comedy.”

Because in the end, all roads really do lead to Tuna.

Greater Tuna returns to Austin, all-new and reimagined by Co-Creator Jaston Williams April 14 – 15. 

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