Comedy kicks off TCT’s 2013-2014 season

Vera (Judd Wilson, left) and Pearl (John Carroll) head off to the Tuna Homecoming Reunion in TCT’s “Red, White & Tuna.” (Lauren Wood)

Vera (Judd Wilson, left) and Pearl (John Carroll) head off to the Tuna Homecoming Reunion in TCT’s “Red, White & Tuna.” (Lauren Wood)

BY SHEENA BARNETT
Daily Journal

TUPELO – Petey, Bertha, DiDi, Inita, Vera, Helen and Thurston are gracing the stage again at The Lyric.

Next week, Tupelo Community Theatre will present “Red, White & Tuna,” the third in the “Tuna” plays and the fourth “Tuna” production at TCT.

Judd Wilson will reprise his many roles, including Arles, Petey, Vera, DiDi and Helen, and TCT veteran John Carroll stars in his first “Tuna” play at TCT as Bertha, Thurston, Joe Bob, Pearl, Inita and R.R., to name a few.

“It’s the best – the characters are all back and they’re just as funny and just as off beat as ever,” said director Ralph Price.

In each of the “Tuna” plays, which includes “Greater Tuna,” “A Tuna Christmas” and “Tuna Does Vegas,” two actors play all of the colorful residents of fictional Tuna, Texas.

In “Red, White & Tuna,” it’s Independence Day, as well as the annual Homecoming Reunion. The whole town, and a few new characters, turn out for the festivities, and hilarity ensues.

For actors Carroll and Wilson, the lightening-fast costume changes and switching to characters within seconds’ notice is a challenge, but a fun one.

“I say the ‘Tuna’ plays are all like my kids: I’m scared to say which one I like the best,” said Wilson, who has starred in all four of TCT’s “Tuna” productions. “When I start learning my lines, it’s like visiting old friends and catching up on their lives.”

Carroll starred in “Greater Tuna” in college, so this isn’t his first time in Tuna.

“The stress and the strain are not unfamiliar to me,” he said. “It’s more than memorizing lines. It’s memorizing mannerisms. It’s memorizing accents. It’s 10 different people, 10 different personalities you have to memorize.”

In just one scene in the second act, both men have 19 different character and costume changes, Price said.

“You’re back there for a a maximum of 30 seconds to turn into someone entirely different,” Carroll said.

Fans of past “Tuna” productions will find plenty of laughs, Wilson said, but you don’t have to be familiar with other productions to laugh along at this one.

“It’s two men, 20 characters – some women, some old women – and one set,” Carroll said. “This one will be a crowd-pleaser.”

sheena.barnett@journalic.com

On Stage

WHAT: Tupelo Community Theatre presents “Red, White & Tuna”

WHEN: 7:30 p.m. Sept. 12-14, 2 p.m. Sept. 14

WHERE: The Lyric

COST: $18/adults, $6/students

INFO: (662) 844-1935, tct.ms