published Friday, May 20th, 2011

‘Greater Tuna’ on wry served up at Colonnade

IF YOU GO

What: “Greater Tuna.”

When: 7:30 p.m. today, Saturday, May 27-28; 1 p.m. May 28.

Where: Catoosa County Colonnade, 264 Catoosa Circle, Ringgold, Ga.

Admission: $11 adults, $9 seniors/students; $8 groups.

Phone: 935-9000.

Website: www.cdoorent.com

J.C. Smith said he considers it the mark of a professional actor not to break character, but he couldn’t help himself in a recent rehearsal.

He and co-star Ed Huckabee were rehearsing for “Greater Tuna,” a comedy by Jaston Williams, Joe Sears and Ed Howard that opens tonight at the Catoosa County Colonnade.

In the play, set in the fictional town of Tuna, Texas, the third smallest town in the state, the two together play 22 roles, male and female, old and young.

“He [Huckabee] had [me] and the technical director in tears with his ad-libs,” Smith said. “It was funny stuff.”

The pair are reprising their roles from 2008’s “Greater Tuna,” 2009’s “A Tuna Christmas” and 2010’s “Red, White and Tuna.” The two actors, who shared the Colonnade stage in “The Brothers of St. Benedict” before their “Tuna” roles, were asked to be in the original Community Players production and remained together in the two-person show under Closed Door Entertainment.

“Ed and I have always been the cast,” Smith said. “I can’t imagine doing it with anyone else.”

Smith said audience members who enjoyed the original told people about the second one, and they told people about the third one.

“Most people that I talked to say the first one is their favorite,” he said. “They said they intend to come back and bring as many people as they can to see how it all got started.”

Smith said because he and Huckabee are trained in improvisation, the production is never “the same way twice.”

“It’s more fun for us that way,” he said. “You just never know what’s going to happen.”

Smith said his favorite characters to play are Petey Fisk, an employee of the Greater Tuna Humane Society, and Vera Carp, the town snob and vice president of the Smut-Snatchers of the New Order. Huckabee, meanwhile, is a riot as the Rev. Spikes, president of the Smut Snatchers of the New Order, he said.

If the comedy doesn’t affect the audience members, he said, the split-second costume changes should.

“Be impressed with that,” Smith said.

about Clint Cooper...

Clint Cooper is the faith editor and a staff writer for the Times Free Press Life section. He also has been an assistant sports editor and Metro staff writer for the newspaper. Prior to the merger between the Chattanooga Free Press and Chattanooga Times in 1999, he was sports news editor for the Chattanooga Free Press, where he was in charge of the day-to-day content of the section and the section’s design. Before becoming sports ...

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