Redding, California - Greater Tuna

By Jon Lewis, Contributing Writer

What: Greater Tuna

When: 7:30 p.m. Tuesday

Where: State Theatre, 333 Oak St. in Red Bluff

Tickets: $24 and $29 ($3 discount for advance purchase)

Available at Fran's Hallmark, Act II and Sky River Music, all in Red Bluff, or by calling 529-2787 or visiting

Some numbers to consider when "Greater Tuna" swims into the State Theatre in Red Bluff at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday: two actors; 22 characters and 22 costumes; four: the number of seconds required for some of the costume changes; and two: the number of lungs you're likely to wear out from laughing.

"Greater Tuna" is the quick-witted, fast-paced brainchild of Ed Howard, Jaston Williams and Joe Sears that brings to life a day in Tuna, the "third-smallest city" in Texas, a hamlet populated by men, women, children, animals, oddballs and aliens.

Originally staged in 1981 in Austin, Texas, the show quickly developed a cult following and moved on to Houston and finally New York. The play begins with the morning news from "celebrities" Thurston Wheelis and Arles Struvie and proceeds, in quick-change fashion, to the various news and crime scenes around town.

News items include the mysterious death of Judge Buckner; the work of Vera Carp and her censorship club (the Smut Snatchers of the New Order) who attempt to censor the dictionary; a bean burrito-shaped UFO spotted by town drunk R.R. Snavely; and a performance by the Tuna Little Theater of "My Fair Lady" using costumes from "South Pacific."

Through it all, actors Jef Holbrook and Topher Payne pop into and out of a host of costumes with the help of some lightning-fast backstage dressers.

"Everybody knows these characters," said Paul Pierce, artistic director of the presenting Springer Theatricals. "If you're not related to them, married to them or live next door to them, you probably are them."