Eccentric personalities abound in the latest Olympic Theatre Arts production, "Greater Tuna."
Ranging from overweight housewives to a lisp-ridden animal-rights activist to a bigoted gun-enthusiast, actors Richard Waites and
Michael Aldrich have their hands full.
The two men play 10 characters each, with more than 40 costume changes in "Tuna's" two acts.
"It's like a long 'Saturday Night Live' sketch," said director Olivia Shea.
Costume changes are performed in split seconds, but significant transformations from slender slack-jawed yokel to overweight mother require more attention.
Voiceovers and radio broadcasts are used to fill time between changes.
Actors ad-lib with invisible runaway dogs and chopping vegetables while chatting with off-stage characters. The production has three costume dressers, but volunteers agreed that eight would be optimum for costume changes to go quickly.
"The hardest part is getting into the shoes," Aldrich said.
In bigger productions on and off-Broadway, costumes and shoes are tailored so taking them off and on is a breeze, he said.
"It's just a matter of getting it all down," said stage manager Susan Shaffer.
"These guys are doing an amazing job."
The play is a welcome back for Waites, who has been absent from OTA for 20 years. He founded the theater group in 1980 but moved to Seattle in 1989 to raise his family and work with several theaters in the area.
He moved back to Sequim last March.
"The OTA has grown a lot since I left. The only person I know is Olivia," he said.
"This is a testament to all the people who kept my dream alive for these years."
"Greater Tuna" is the first of four plays about the residents of Tuna, Texas. OTA performed "Tuna Christmas," in winter 2000.
Each play stands on its own, and viewers need not have seen "Tuna Christmas" to enjoy "Greater Tuna," Shea said.
Jaston Williams, Joe Sears and Ed Howard wrote the series in the early 1980s and requested that two men perform the play alone because it adds to the comedy. However, they do allow community and school productions to incorporate women into female and male roles.
"We wanted something really funny," Shea said.
"It's exaggerated enough that anyone could enjoy it .... The ilk of rednecks might be offended though."
Some content might not be appropriate for younger audiences, she said.
"Greater Tuna" will be performed at 7:30 p.m. June 26-27, July 10-11 and 17-18; 2 p.m. June 28 and July 12, at Sequim High School auditorium, 601 N. Sequim Ave., Sequim.
Admission is $12 general admission and $10 for OTA members. For tickets call 683-7326 or go online to www.olympictheatrearts.org.
Tickets also are available at Pacific Mist Books, 121 W. Washington St., Sequim; Sequim Village Glass, 761 Carlsborg Road, Carlsborg; and Odyssey Books, 114 W. Front St., Port Angeles.
Matthew Nash can be reached at
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