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No heartwarming holiday cheer in “A Tuna Christmas” at the Millibo Art Theatre

By Jen Mulson

Published in The Gazette, Dec. 4, 2015

Read it HERE

By Millibo Art Theatre, opens Thursday, runs 7:30 p.m. Thursdays-Sundays through Dec. 27, Millibo Art Theatre, 1626 S. Tejon St., $16-$18 Thursdays, $22-$25 Fridays-Sundays; 465-6321, themat.org.

Once you’ve had your fill of “It’s a Wonderful Life,” please direct your attention to the folks in “A Tuna Christmas.”

The antics of these 22 not so politically correct citizens could fill a year of episodes for “The Jerry Springer Show.” And they’re all played by two men well-known for their comedic chops: Sammy Gleason and Sammie Joe Kinnett. The show opens Thursday at the Millibo Art Theatre.

“A Tuna Christmas” is second in a series of plays that began with “Greater Tuna” in 1981. The Christmas show was followed by “Red, White and Tuna” and “Tuna Does Vegas,” all written by Jaston Williams, Joe Sears and Ed Howard.

Gleason and Kinnett begin the show as two hapless radio DJs who work at the radio station OKKK. From there they morph, physically and vocally, in all sorts of interesting directions, taking on multiple male and female characters – 11 each – of all ages.

“It makes fun of all these characters in Tuna, Texas,” says director Joye Cook-Levy. “They’re still really lovable – it’s not like watching characters you can’t stand – but they’re all severely flawed human beings.”

Town drama abounds in the last 24 hours before Christmas. There’s the annual lawn display contest, a production of “A Christmas Carol” threatened with closure due to unpaid electric bills and the Christmas party. This year’s theme? “The Whitest Christmas Ever.”

“It’s just wrong in every way possible,” Cook-Levy says. “It’s racist, sexist, ageist, homophobic, but it’s a satire.”

And on some level she believes we can all relate.

“It’s outrageous but incredibly familiar to everyone,” she says. “You laugh at the satire and then you think, ‘Oh God, I laughed at that.’ And then you go, ‘Oh God, that’s me.'”


Author: Jim Jackson