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Little Theatre's Red, White, and Tuna opens "Warning: may cause excessive laughter"

Kirsten Obadal
By Kirsten Obadal
Posted on Jun 08,2017
Filed Under Entertainment , Local Style,

Photo by: Matt Liptak
(from left to right) Stephen McDonnell as Amber Windchime and David Wright as Star Birdfeather

ALEXANDRIA, VA. - LTA's new production of Red, White, and Tuna does ample justice to this sharp script, which draws a slightly damning and satirical but affectionate caricature of folks who live in a small town called Tuna, Texas. This play is the third in a four-part series of scripts penned by Ed Howard, Joe Sears, and Jaston Williams.  Producers for this show are Marian Holmes and Russell Wyland, with director Michael J. Baker, Jr.

Two male actors portray a dozen or so characters, male and female, who interact in the context of Fourth of July festivities in this rural town in the middle of nowhere.  In his notes, Director Mike Baker comments that these characters “change us, without us having known it.”  Somehow, we are edified by their quirks as Texans and as Southerners: but mostly, by how they affect us as people coping and dealing with their environment.

Baker, a veteran actor at LTA and a repeat Emmy winner from his roles on television, drew in two talented and credentialed actors for this production.  Actor One, David Wright, has a magical ability to transform himself into different people with a change of hair, clothes, mannerism, and speech.  He has a particular knack for portraying middle-aged women.  Actor Two, Steven McDonnell, comes to LTA from the New York stage.  He has also worked on both sides of the camera in film.  In particular, his portrayal of DidiSnively nails the eccentricities of a gun shop owner and her world view, which includes using the Holy Bible as an encyclopedia: “Momma, get your bible, I want you to look up electoral politics.”

McDonnell talked about how he “became Texan” for the role: “We worked with a dialogue coach and listened to a lot of country music DJ’s and YouTube videos to get into true Texan character and accent.  There is a hard “R” at times, and it’s very nasal.”

Theater-goers Kyle and Lucy from Alexandria, said: “The show is very funny. Kyle is from Texas, and small town Texas is very colorful.  There were some very good lines.  What we like about the Little Theatre is that we come and get entertained, and politics doesn’t come into it.”  Attendee Hiter Davis of Fredericksburg, Virginia said, “I especially like the set design.”  The set was a triptych which could be rotated, providing six different settings in all.  Set designer Chris Feldman has won awards for his work at LTA, of which he is a veteran designer and member.

The play satirizes everyone without discrimination: Jehovah’s witnesses, Baptists, firearm-toting folks, and their bad clothing.  Maybe the smartest line in play prophetizes this way: “If you can’t get yourself killed in a small town in Texas, you’re not really trying.”  We are quite drawn in to this very human cast of characters.

Red, White, and Tuna runs until June 24.  For tickets and information, visit

Photo by: Matt Liptak
Stephen McDonnell as Arles Struvie
Photo by: Matt Liptak
David Wright as Star Birdfeather
Photo by: Matt Liptak
David Wright as R.R. Snavely

Photo by: Matt Liptak
David Wright as Leonard Childers

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