Review: Tasty ‘Tuna’ in Las Vegas

Good news for “Greater Tuna” fans: When the crazy characters of Tuna venture outside of their beloved third-smallest town in Texas for Las Vegas, they’re as just sassy, sweet and funny as they are at home.

“Tuna Does Vegas,” the fourth installment in the “Greater Tuna” comedies, onstage at San Francisco’s Curran Theatre, finds busy actors Joe Sears and Jaston Williams as appealing, endearing and adept as when they began nearly 30 years ago.

Once again, the fellas play all of the show’s characters, from old favorites Arlis Strivie (Williams) and his wife Bertha Bumiller (Sears) to Sin City hotel manager Anna Conda (Williams) and security officer Shot (Sears).

The consistently funny dialogue — the majority of the jokes hit — is what makes “Vegas” such a treat.

But equally invigorating, as in all of the “Tuna” plays, is the pleasure the audience counts on anticipating when one of the actors exits the stage — for it will be only a matter of seconds before he’ll be back front and center, wearing another adorable, crazy or hysterical getup.

Linda Fisher’s spot-on costumes — from Bertha’s hot pink-and-chartreuse pantsuit to a couple of glitzy Elvis impersonator jumpsuits — look fantastic on Williams and Sears, truly masters of the quick change.

The plot revolves around Arlis and Bertha’s vacation to Vegas, where they plan to renew their wedding vows. How most of their fellow Tuna citizens decide to join them comprises the first act: Aunt Pearl (Sears) wants to go to witness the blessed event, animal activist Petey Fisk (Williams) wants to save the mistreated critters there, Vera Carp (Williams) wants to continue her campaign against smut and Tastee Kreme waitresses Inita (Sears) and Helen (Williams) simply want to get away from it all.

Act 2 follows their adventures there, not on the Strip, but in the Hula Chateau hotel downtown.

That “Tuna Does Vegas” isn’t primarily set in Nevada points to its main appeal: the humanity, and universality, of its delightful population. Sears, Williams and their director/co-writer Ed Howard have demonstrated yet again what makes enduring popular entertainment: “Greater Tuna” doesn’t simply skewer its small-town characters and attitudes; it’s a valentine to them.

IF YOU GO

Tuna Does Vegas

Where: Curran Theatre, 445 Geary St., San Francisco

When: 7:30 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday; 2 p.m. Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday; closes June 28

Tickets: $35 to $75

Contact: (415) 512-7770 or www.ticketmaster.com

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