Review: `Tuna Does Vegas

Opened June 18, 2008 at the Curran Theatre

Jaston Williams (left) is Tasty Kreme waitress Helen Bedd and Joe Sears is her co-worker and compatriot Inita Goodwin in Tuna Does Vegas, the fourth Tuna show, now at San Francisco’s Curran Theatre. Photos by Brenda Ladd

Fourth serving of Tuna sprinkled with sins, smiles

There’s no such thing as too many visits to Tuna, Texas, the legendary (and fictional) Texas town with a virtual population of two: actors Joe Sears and Jaston Williams, who play all of the town’s eccentric, lovable citizens.

Since the arrival of Greater Tuna in the early ’80s, audiences have grown to love the world of Tuna as created by Sears, Williams and director/co-writer Ed Howard. After the sequels A Tuna Christmas and Red, White and Tuna, we thought the trilogy was finito, and it was goodnight, Tuna. But you can’t keep a good Texan down, apparently, because here comes No. 4: the self-explanatory Tuna Does Vegas, now in a short run at San Francisco’s Curran Theatre as part of the SHN/Best of Broadway season.

My favorite show of the quartet is still A Tuna Christmas, but the new Vegas show is a worthy entry into the Tuna canon.

The first appearances of characters such as Bertha Bumiller or Pear Burras (both played by Sears) or Vera Carp (Williams) elicit rounds of applause as if greeting the arrival of an old friend and that’s pretty much true. There’s just something comforting seeing the hefty Sears wobble out in Aunt Pearl’s bright floral dress, petite hat and cane that inspires good humor.

The first half of the two-plus-hour show is set mostly in Tuna as Bertha and her husband, radio host Arles Struvie (Williams

2 thoughts on “Review: `Tuna Does Vegas

  1. Great review Chad. Being raised in a small town in Southern Ohio with one of those radio stations we had, I love the show The station was WPIQ the voice of Piqua. During high school years there, I would bring my records over to the station that were very progressive. Horrors Glen Miller, Benny Goodman, Stan Kenton. The town was used to Guy Lombardo and Sammy Kaye. Oh I was a rebel in those day 🙂

    Once thing that I loved was the flight from Lubuck Texas to Las Vegas with four stops. I flew in 1941 from Dayton Ohio to Washington on TWA. We had stopped in Columbus, Pittsburgh and Philadelphia before we reached Washington. It took all of six hours with those stops to get there.

    Also liked your interview with Bill Rauch at OSF in the Chronicle. I miss some our friends who are no longer on the rouster this year. We reviewed the first part in April and we go back up for the last part in mid September.

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