Tuna

Justin Harmon and Buster Maloney, shown in Denton Community Theatre’s 2013 production of “Greater Tuna,” are back to portray all the townspeople of Tuna, Texas, in “A Tuna Christmas.”

Local actors Justin Harmon and Buster Maloney are back at it again. The popular pair of actors return to the Denton stage to revive their staging of A Tuna Christmas.

The beloved play — and its companion plays Greater Tuna and Red, White and Tuna — is a 10-gallon hat-tip to the colorful characters found in rural Texas communities. Tuna, Texas, has aging cheerleader types, local activists and busy bodies and a troubled family looking for connection.

Harmon and Maloney have played the many denizens of Tuna on the local stage many times. Director Donna Trammell returns to steer the zany ship of fools along with Maloney.

The plot of A Tuna Christmas centers on the town’s annual Christmas yard display contest.

Stakes don’t seem too terribly high, given that Vera Carp has taken the top prize 14 years in a row. But things get interesting when a mysterious “Christmas phantom,” known for vandalizing the yard displays, threatens to ruin the work of the overzealous competitors.

Favorite characters in the third-smallest city in Texas (where the population is “ignorant but happy”) make an appearance: Stanley Bumiller wants to end his probation and leave Tuna, Bertha Bumiller wants to keep her family together at Christmas time, and Joe Bob Lipsey struggles to stage a decent production of A Christmas Carol.

Harmon and Maloney play more than 20 residents of the town — male and female. With the magic of quick costume changes and on-the-spot character voices, the acting duo takes the residents from the ridiculous to charming. When things heat up, the disc jockeys at the Tuna radio station (complete with call letters OKKK) narrate the action and leaven the madness with humor and occasional reason.

LUCINDA BREEDING can be reached at 940-566-6877 and via Twitter at @LBreedingDRC.

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