A hilarious helping of ‘Tuna’ ends historic Playhouse season
Published 7:20 pm Monday, July 29, 2019
Pioneer Playhouse, Kentucky’s oldest outdoor theatre, ends its regular 2019 play season with “Red, White and Tuna,” a hilarious comedy set in the fictional “third smallest town” in Texas. The town is populated by an eccentric cast of characters all connected through the airwaves of the hometown radio station, OKKK and its DJs Arles Struvie’s and Thurston Wheelis’ constant comment on local happenings.
Email newsletter signup
“Red, White and Tuna” was written by a team of playwrights, Ed Howard, Joe Sears and Jaston Williams, and is the third in a series of four “Tuna” plays which are both an affectionate look and satirical comment on Southern small-town life and attitudes. Pioneer Playhouse has previously presented two of the “Tuna” plays in years past: “Greater Tuna” and “Tuna Does Vegas.”
“The plays work as a series, but they’re also complete stand-alones,” says Heather Henson, managing director of Pioneer Playhouse, which has been celebrating 70 years in the Bluegrass this summer. “Don’t worry if you haven’t seen the other plays. It doesn’t matter at all. Each play has its own plot, its own big event that the residents of Tuna, Texas are all worked up about.”
As the title suggests, “Red, White and Tuna” is set in the week leading up to the big Fourth of July celebration, which happens to coincide with the big Tuna High School reunion. Both events have all the Tuna townsfolk in an increasingly frenzied state of anticipation.
As with all the “Tuna” plays, two actors play the entire ensemble of kooky residents in a rapid-fire series of quick-change scenes and costumes.
“If you’ve been coming to the Playhouse for a while then you know actor, Daniel Hall Kuhn,” says Robby Henson, artistic director. “He’s a fan favorite, and audiences always ask when he’s coming back. Well, he’s back with a vengeance in this one.”
“Daniel was one of the two actors the last time we did a ‘Tuna’ play,” says Heather Henson. “He was in ‘Tuna Does Vegas,’ and audiences loved him. They couldn’t stop laughing at all the different characters — both men and women — he played.”
“And this time we’re doing something a little different,” adds Robby Henson. “We have Daniel back, but we are changing things up a bit, and having an actress play the other traditionally male role.”
Meg Mark, who debuted at Pioneer Playhouse over 10 years ago in Pioneer Playhouse’s very first Kentucky Voices production, “A Jarful of Firefliesby” by local writer Catherine Bush, returns to the historic stage to play opposite Kuhn in the demanding 20-odd character comedy.
“Meg was here when she was just starting out,” says Heather Henson. “And she returned about seven years ago, and audiences loved her in Dracula Bitesand Picasso at the Lapin Agile. She’s been working in New York City, acting and doing stand-up comedy. She’s funny, with great energy and crazy comedic timing. We’re incredibly lucky to have her return.”
Robby Henson says it’ll be fun to see Kuhn and Mark working together again. ““These are two actors at the very top of their game. You’re not going to want to miss one.”
“Red, White and Tuna” is directed by Drew Davidson.
IF YOU GO
“Red, White and Tuna” runs Aug. 6-17, with 8:30 p.m. shows Tuesday-Saturdays. A home-cooked BBQ dinner is available each night at 7:30 before the show. Reservations are suggested for the play but required for dinner; tickets are $20 for the show, $35 for dinner and the show. For more information: (859) 236-2747, pioneerplayhouse.com.