Letters

Letters 08-31-2015

Inalienable Rights This is a response to the “No More State Theatre” in your August 24th edition. I think I will not be the only response to this pathetic and narrow-minded letter that seems rather out of place in the northern Michigan that I know. To think we will not be getting your 25 cents for the movie you refused to see, but more importantly we will be without your “two cents” on your thoughts of a marriage at the State Theatre...

Enthusiastically Democratic Since I was one of the approximately 160 people present at when Senator Debbie Stabenow spoke on August 14 in Charlevoix, I was surprised to read in a letter to Northern Express that there was a “rather muted” response to Debbie’s announcement that she has endorsed Hillary Clinton for president...

Not Hurting I surely think the State Theatre will survive not having the homophobic presence of Colleen Smith and her family attend any matinees. I think “Ms.” Smith might also want to make sure that any medical personnel, bank staff, grocery store staff, waiters and/or waitress, etc. are not homosexual before accepting any service or product from them...

Stay Home I did not know whether to laugh or cry when I read the letter of the extremely homophobic, “disgusted” writer. She now refuses to patronize the State Theatre because she evidently feels that its confines have been poisoned by the gay wedding ceremony held there...

Keep Away In response to Colleen Smith of Cadillac who refused to bring her family to the State Theatre because there was a gay wedding there: Keep your 25 cents and your family out of Traverse City...

Celebrating Moore And A Theatre I was 10 years old when I had the privilege to see my first film at the State Theatre. I will never forget that experience. The screen was almost the size of my bedroom I shared with my older sister. The bursting sounds made me believe I was part of the film...

Outdated Thinking This letter is in response to Colleen Smith. She made public her choice to no longer go to the State Theater due to the fact that “some homosexuals” got married there. I’m not outraged by her choice; we don’t need any more hateful, self-righteous bigots in our town. She can keep her 25 cents...

Mackinac Pipeline Must Be Shut Down Crude oil flowing through Enbridge’s 60-yearold pipeline beneath the Mackinac Straits and the largest collection of fresh water on the planet should be a serious concern for every resident of the USA and Canada. Enbridge has a very “accident” prone track record...

Your Rights To Colleen, who wrote about the State Theatre: Let me thank you for sharing your views; I think most of us are well in support of the first amendment, because as you know- it gives everyone the opportunity to express their opinions. I also wanted to thank Northern Express for not shutting down these types of letters right at the source but rather giving the community a platform for education...

No Role Model [Fascinating Person from last week’s issue] Jada quoted: “I want to be a role model for girls who are interested in being in the outdoors.” I enjoy being in the outdoors, but I don’t want to kill animals for trophy...

Home · Articles · News · Features · Greater Tuna
. . . .

Greater Tuna

Erin Cowell - July 26th, 2010
Get Yer Taste of Greater Tuna
By Erin Crowell
“Greater Tuna,” the most-produced play around the country in 1985 about “the third smallest town in Texas,” boasts 20 character roles portrayed by just two actors – and it’s coming to Northern Michigan July 30-Aug. 1 at the Historic Elk Rapids Town Hall.
No, the play is not under budget.
Playing 10 roles apiece in a 90-minute span is all part of the fun for actors Joe Kilpatrick and Patrick Feak of Traverse City. With characters ranging from a dog-poisoning woman to a 10-year-old kid, the play about a town called Tuna and its colorful citizens keeps these two actors—as well as the audience—on their toes.

A TOWN CALLED TUNA
Presented by Theatre North TC, under the direction of Denni Don Hunting, the play starts out with radio hosts Arles Struvie (played by Feak) and Thurston Wheelis (played by Kilpatrick) of Radio Station OKKK, rambling out the day’s morning report. With just a table and two chairs as props—and some well-executed West Texas accents—the newscast includes all the important tidbits such as the winner of the Tuna Junior High American Heritage Essay Contest – the winner? Connie Carp with her essay “Human Riots, Why Bother?” with second place going to Jimbo Beaumont and his essay, “Living with Radiation.”
The most important piece of news comes in about the announcement of the death of Tuna’s former county judge, Rosco Buckner. From there, and throughout the play, we discover small-town rivalry, gossip, bigotry and xenophobia – and, of course, some pretty oddball characters.

10-PART ROLE
So, what is it like to play 10 very eccentric roles in one play?
“It’s an actor’s dream to do 10 different characters; and these are such great, typical bo-hunk characters,” says Kilpatrick. “If not for the dressers backstage, this play couldn’t be done. We’ve got less than one minute to get backstage where they literally grab us, change our costume and remind us which character we’re going back out there as.”
Kilpatrick got into theater while attending high school in Traverse City before moving on to New York University, where he studied it at the Tish School of the Arts, Experimental Theatre Wing. He currently serves on the artistic committee at the Old Town Playhouse in Traverse City.
‘The most challenging part about this play is you never have any downtime,” says Feak. “You’re putting on another face and changing into a whole new person every time.”
The two actors have previous experience performing together, which include time on Old Town and Theatre North productions.
Out of all his characters, Feak says his favorite is Didi Snavely.
“She’s the washed up, knarly hair, raspy voiced, old woman who everybody just loves. She’s just a mean-old crotchety lady.’
Kilpatrick also prefers one of his female roles – Aunt Pearl Burras, who “has a proclivity for poisoning the neighbor’s dogs…making things out of strychnine,” as he explains.
“It’s a blast to play these whacked-out characters, especially the women,” he adds. “Can you imagine a 6-foot-4-inch man playing a woman?”
While two actors playing multiple roles sounds challenging, “Greater Tuna” has simpler elements to its production, including a minimal set.
“It’s mostly pantomime,” says Kilpatrick. “We have no paper when we’re reading the news. We’re looking down at a table as if it’s the judge’s coffin.”
The only major set pieces and props include a table, a couple chairs, a radio, meat cleaver and flask for the town drunk.
“The audience has a well-enough understanding of what the (invisible) objects are,” he adds.

TUNA SUCCESS
“Greater Tuna” has drawn audiences from a wide range of ages and demographics.
The play—written in 1981 by Jaston Williams, Joe Sears and Ed Howard—was born from a political cartoon, and soon gained momentum, with performances across the coasts and at the White House in 1990 and 1991.
“I’ve known kids in their 20s and folks in their 60s who love this play,” says Kilpatrick.
“There’s always something going on,” adds Feak.
The success of “Greater Tuna” led to sequels “A Tuna Christmas,” “Red, White and Tuna” and “Tuna Does Vegas.”
Theatre North plans on performing “A Tuna Christmas” sometime this December.
For this weekend’s performance, audiences can expect plenty of non-stop laughs, says the two actors.
“It’s fun watching the audience laugh at a chracter and then seem to stop and think, like, ‘I would have done something like that.’ Then they start laughing at themselves,” says Kilpatrick.

“Greater Tuna” is presented by Theatre North TC, at the Historic Elk Rapids Town Hall, July 30 & 31; and August 1, at 8 p.m. Tickets are $10 and are available at TREATickets.com or by calling 800-836-0717.


 
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