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