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home : features : features April 15, 2014

11/19/2012 10:11:00 PM
Weally weally wacky: In Tuna, Texas, love really does conquer all
Courtesy photo
Cason Murphy and Sean Jeralds play 23 characters between them in the Prescott Center for the Arts production of A Tuna Christmas, which takes the stage Friday.
Courtesy photo
Cason Murphy and Sean Jeralds play 23 characters between them in the Prescott Center for the Arts production of A Tuna Christmas, which takes the stage Friday.
Karen Despain
The Daily Courier

"Welcome to Wackyville" ought to be on the sign greeting playgoers who attend "A Tuna Christmas," which opens on the Prescott Center for the Arts stage this Friday night.

In the tradition of "Greater Tuna," "Red, White and Tuna" and "Tuna Does Las Vegas," the dysfunctional citizenry of Tuna, Texas, are in a flap because they are gearing up for the annual holiday yard display contest, but there's a glitch afoot. It seems the phantom who has pulled pranks on the little burg since the 1930s is at it again. He's threatening to throw a monkey wrench into the contest, creating a cacophony among Tuna's townfolk.

In the same tradition of the award-winning plays, only two actors, Cason Murphy and Sean Jeralds, both PCA veterans, carry the performance through multiple scenes and costume changes to portray the zany inhabitants of Tuna, the third smallest town in Texas.

"A lot of things are going on," said Murphy, who directs the cast of two. "We play 23 characters total, with a lot of changes within scenes," he said, adding there may be five or six characters in just one scene, requiring the two to be quick-change artists. Each character "has its own look. We've really managed to capture" the crazy goings-on, he said. Murphy, Jeralds and Murphy's mother, Karen, raided the PCA costume closet and the prop shelves for the production's special effects.

"The costumes and props are really important to get the characters across," Murphy said. "All the eccentricities come out in the props and costumes we've picked out for the show."

"A Tuna Christmas" has a theme and characters that audience members will be able to relate to, both Murphy and Jeralds say.

"People from my family I recognize in this show," Jeralds said. "The holidays seem to bring out the wackiness in everybody." The play "has some really nice moments," he said. "For me it reinforces my belief in mankind and that love can conquer all. It's wacky Christmas fun."

Murphy echoes Jeralds, when he says, "There's a lot of small-town humor" in 'A Tuna Christmas.' Even though these characters live in a different state, they can easily be found here in Prescott, as well."

The "Tunas," a comedic series of plays, each set in the same small Texas town, were written by Jaston Williams, Joe Sears and Ed Howard.

In "A Tuna Christmas," Vera Carp has won the yard display contest 14 years in a row. Aside from the phantom's plot to vandalize the displays, subplots have Stanley Bumiller trying to end his probation and leave Tuna, Bertha Bumiller trying to hold her family together at Christmastime and Joe Bob Lipsey struggling to present his production of "A Christmas Carol," in spite of numerous vexations and obstacles.

Tickets are selling at a special holiday price of $12 for the four performances at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. To buy tickets, call the PCA box office at 445-3286.

"A Tuna Christmas" is "a great way" to entertain family in town for the Thanksgiving holiday, Murphy said. "It's a great way to get out of the house, do something different and get in the Christmas spirit. The costumes are crazy, and there's a ton of characters. It's good family fun for a 13-year-old to an 80-year-old grandmother."

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