Actors Don Fresen (left) and Rob King rehearse a scene in which they read the news at a rural radio station in the Haylofters’ production of “Greater Tuna.” (Photo by Ed Nadolski)

‘Greater Tuna’ opens Friday night at Malt House Theater

By Ed Nadolski

Editor in Chief

“Greater Tuna,” a comedic send-up of small town morals in the tiny town of Tuna, Texas, opens at the Malt House Theater in Burlington Friday night.

The eclectic band of citizens that make up this town are portrayed by just three actors, making this satire on life in rural America all the more interesting as they depict all of the inhabitants of Tuna – men, women, children and animals, according to Janet Palmer, who is directing her second play for the Haylofters.

The actors – Rob King, Don Fresen and James Howe, all Haylofters veterans – take on the multiple roles at a dizzying pace. It’s a pace that challenges their quick-change acting abilities and the talents of costume designer Jennie King, who had to come up with the outfits and undergarments to cover a variety of sexes and ages, Palmer said.

“I haven’t even been backstage to see what goes on,” she said of the hectic between scene changes.

The play, written by Jaston Williams, Joe Sears, and Ed Howard, was originally meant for two actors, but Palmer decided to customize it for three, which, she said, helps increase the intrigue.

“You’re never sure which ones will be on stage next,” she said.

The play is at once an affectionate comment on small-town, Southern life, but also a withering satire of same, according to Palmer.

“I thought this would be a great play for this little venue,” she said.

Fresen plays the roles of Phinas Blye, Hank Bumiller, Petey Fisk, Chad Hartford, Rev. Spikes and Arles Struvie

Howe portrays Jody Bumiller, Charlene Bumiller, Stanley Bumiller, Vera Carp, Harold Dean Lattimer, Didi Snavely, Elmer Watkins and Yippy

King takes on the roles of Bertha Bumiller, Pearl Burras, Leonard Childers, Sheriff Givens, R. R. Snavely and Thurston Wheelis.

Palmer said all three have embraced their roles.

“Most were off-book at the second rehearsal,” she said.

The shows are scheduled for 7:30 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, and 2 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday the next two weekends.

Tickets are on sale at the Coffee House on Chestnut and Pine streets in Burlington or online at Tickets are also available at the box office immediately prior to shows.

     Crew members for the show are:

Director: Janet Palmer

Production Assistant: Michelle Morrell

Sound Design: Bill Corey and Greg Klas

Lighting Design: Logan Bydalek

Sound: Larry Palmer

Lights: Mikey Wheaton

Costume Design: Jennie King

Wig Master: Anthony Mackie

Backstage Dressers: Julie Patten, Tara Petrozelli and Rod Schmidt

Set Design and Construction: Rob King, Rick Morrell and Julie Patten