Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

'A Tuna Christmas' Opening in December

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

'A Tuna Christmas' Opening in December

Article excerpt

Byline: TAMARA McCLARAN

A holiday celebration with Southwestern sass and side-splitting humor comes to life when Players by-the-Sea presents the Tony Award-nominated Broadway comedy, A Tuna Christmas, Dec. 1-16 on the main stage of the Jacksonville Beach community theater.

Written by Jaston Williams, Joe Sears and Ed Howard and directed by John Pope, A Tuna Christmas tells the stories of nearly two dozen residents of Tuna, Texas, as they prepare for their town's annual Christmas lawn decoration contest.

It may be the third-smallest town in Texas, yet the mythical Tuna is filled with wacky and memorable characters. They include Didi Snavely, the chain-smoking used weapons shop owner; Stanley Bumiller, a juvenile delinquent doing community service in the hometown production of A Christmas Carol and the mysterious Christmas Phantom who wreaks havoc on the Christmas yard display contest. There are 22 characters that represent the entire population of Tuna and they are played by just two actors.

"It's Christmas, you have to believe," Pope said. "It's one of the reasons audiences love this show. They enjoy seeing just two people play all of these characters."

A Tuna Christmas is Pope's first show at Players even though the accomplished actor and director has appeared in community theaters all over town since arriving in Jacksonville less than two years ago. Pope directed Alone Together at the Atlantic Beach Experimental Theatre last season and has performed at ABET, Orange Park Community Theater, the Limelight and Theatre Jacksonville.

With its fast-paced humor, actors Tom Ming and Anthony Hodge will face the challenges of quick-change artistry as they bring all of the show's 22 characters to life. In the show, they change costumes, gender and age at the drop of a hat. Scene changes take place in seconds.

"This show really is an actor's nightmare and also one of the greatest challenges," said Ming, who will be shaving his beard in order to accommodate the female characters that he plays in the show. …

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