Greater Tuna

by  Ed Howard, Joe Sears, Jaston Williams

Full Length Play, Comedy  /  2m or f

What do Arles Struvie, Thurston Wheelis, Aunt Pearl, Petey Fisk, Phineas Blye, and Rev. Spikes have in common? In this hilarious send-up of small-town morals and mores, they are all among the upstanding citizens of Tuna, Texas’ third-smallest town. 

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  • Cast Size

    Cast Size

    2m or f
  • Duration

    Duration

    120 minutes (2 hours)
  • SubGenre

    Subgenre

    Not Applicable
  • Accolades

    Accolades

    From Off-Broadway
  • Audience

    Target Audience

    • Adult
    • Senior
    • Teen (Age 14 - 18)

Additional Info

The long-running Off Broadway hit features two actors creating the entire population of Tuna in a tour de farce of quick change artistry, changing costumes and characterizations faster than a jack rabbit runs from a coyote. Two actors, twenty characters, and a barrel of laughs, y’all.

Greater Tuna was originally produced in 1981 in Austin, Texas by its authors, Jaston Williams, Joe Sears, and Ed Howard. The play’s stars, Williams and Sears, played all twenty characters, and Howard directed. One year after its premiere, Greater Tuna opened Off Broadway, ran for over a year, and went on to tour major theaters all over America and spots overseas for the next thirty-some years, becoming one of the most produced plays in American theatre history.  

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Reviews

"Howlingly funny." - Variety

"The audience all but exploded the theatre with laughter." - New York Post

"Hilarious, a tribute to the art of acting." - Washington Post

"Sharp, satiric & funny." - The New Yorker

"A whale of a funny evening." - Houston Post

Considerations

Performing Groups

  • High School/Secondary
  • College Theatre / Student
  • Community Theatre
  • Dinner Theatre
  • Professional Theatre
  • Reader's Theatre
  • Shoestring Budget
  • Blackbox / Second Stage /Fringe Groups

Cautions

  • No Special Cautions

License details

  • Minimum Fee: $100 per performance

Production

Details

  • Time Period: 1980s
  • Duration: 120 minutes (2 hours)
  • Setting: The fictitious town of Tuna, Texas, located in west Texas, about halfway between San Angelo and Hell. Though the action takes place in the early eighties, nothing has changed since then.
  • Additional Features: Mime, Physical Comedy
  • Features / Contains: Contemporary Costumes / Street Clothes

Music

  • Musical Style: N/A (Not a musical)
  • Vocal Demands: N/A (Not a musical)
  • Chorus Size: N/A (Not a musical)

Casting

2m or f
THURSTON WHEELIS, folksy radio host
ELMER WATKINS, head of Klan 249
BERTHA BUMILLER, beleagured housewife
YIPPY, half rat-terrier, half chihuahua
LEONARD CHILDERS, radio station owner and talk-show host
PEARL BURRAS, chicken farmer known for poisoning dogs
R.R. SNAVELY, drunken UFOlogist
REV. SPIKES, cliche spouting preacher
SHERIFF GIVENS, clueless long arm of the law
HANK BUMILLER, Bertha's philandering husband
ARLES STRUVIE, wise cracking radio host
DIDI SNAVELY, owner of Didi's Used Weapons
HAROLD DEAN LATTIMER, the weatherman
PETEY FISK, the one-man Greater Tuna Humane Society
JODY BUMILLER, Bertha's youngest son who collects stray dogs
STANLEY BUMILLER, Bertha's other son, a reform school graduate
CHARLENE BUMILLER, Stanley's twin sister, a cheerleader reject
CHAD HARTFORD, a reporter from Houston
PHINAS BLYE, a near-sighted perennial political candidate
VERA CARP, society matron and vice-president of the Smut Snatchers of the New Order
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Cast Attributes

  • All Male
  • Cross gender casting
  • Expandable casting
  • Flexible casting
  • Not Applicable

Casting Notes

In the original production of "Greater Tuna", all the denizens of Tuna, Texas, were played by two actors. It is the opinion of the authors that this greatly increases the fun of the show; but individual producers may expand the cast size at their discretion.

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Authors

Ed Howard

Ed Howard is the co-author of the plays “Greater Tuna”, “A Tuna Christmas”, “Red, White and Tuna”, “Tuna Do ...

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Joe Sears

Joe Sears

Jaston Williams

Jaston Williams

Greater Tuna was first presented Off Broadway by Karl Allison in association with Bryan Bantry at Circle in the Square in New York City on October 21, 1982. It starred Joe Sears and Jaston Williams and was directed by Ed Howard.

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