Parks and Points - Having a Tuna Christmas

Tuna Christmas presented by New Direction Community Theatre

Hollywood, MD - Southern Maryland Traditional Music and Dance hosts a Holiday Open Mic on Friday, December 15 at the Christ Episcopal Church Parish Hall in Chaptico. Doors open at 7 p.m.; dancing begins at 7:30 p.m. Admission for this event is free. Be sure to sign up in advance with John Garner: or you may call 301-904-4987. A short Annual Meeting will be held for the purpose of voting in the new 2018 SMTMD Board members. Light refreshments will be provided and donations of additional goodies will be joyfully accepted.

For directions and for more information you may visit

A Tuna Christmas, by Joe Sears, Jaston Williams and Ed Howard continues with New Direction Community Theater through Friday and Saturday, Dec.  8 and 9. The final performances will be held at the Long Beach Community Center on Calvert Boulevard in St. Leonard, MD at 7 p.m. 

Produced with special permission and rights by Samuel French, A Tuna Christmas (the sequel to Greater Tuna) is a hilarious comedy that pokes fun at some of the stereotypical attitudes of the inhabitants of a fictional small town in Texas during the late 70’s and early 80’s – Tuna being the third smallest town in Texas.

Director Didi Olney, herself an accomplished actress,  (not to be confused with the Tuna character Didi Snavely!) has elicited uproariously funny performances from her two outstanding actors (Alex LaClair and Scott Jacoby) as they portray the play’s multiple characters with lightning-quick costume changes and deft comic timing.

The audience’s joy in this production comes from watching the two lead actors adapt their accents, costumes, and body language and a myriad of idiosyncrasies to each new character (for example: Didi Snavely smokes, Pearl uses a cane, Dixie obviously has some sagging issues, R.R. is definitely out there – somewhere,  Petey lisps, etc.) Don’t miss seeing  these versatile stars bring the inhabitants of the town of Tuna, TX to life. Mr. Jacoby is a veteran performer with NDCT and of Greater Tuna; Mr. LaClair’s bio states that he also has had previous experience with the citizens of Tuna.

A children’s show, The Taming of the Shoe, by Desire M. Sobiech, directed by Sherry Mervine, will have its final matinee performance at the Long Beach Community Center at 2 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 9 (duration: 1 hour).

Here is a brief synopsis of the plot  and the characters of A Tuna Christmas; the action takes place in the few days just before Christmas…

Act I opens to a recording of the National Anthem as radio station OKKK in Tuna, TX prepares to begin broadcasting for the day. We meet the DJs – Arles Struvie (Scott Jacoby) and Thurston Wheelis (Alex LaClair) appropriately attired in  jeans and T-shirts.  Tuna residents make appearances to advertise their businesses: Didi Snavely (Scott) for her Used Weapons Shop, and the lisping Petey Fisk (Scott) who is the sole volunteer at the Greater Tuna Humane Society.

The scene shifts to the Bumiller household where a pregnant cat is about to give birth. Mom Bertha (Alex) valiantly tries to entice her children – Stanley (Scott), 12-year-old Jody (Scott), and Tuna High-School  senior Charlene (Scott again) – to help her trim the tree. Charlene is Stanley’s twin and is allergic to cats. This is Stanley’s last day of probation – he is working off his community service by participating in the town’s Christmas Pageant, directed by Joe Bob.  Frustrated, Bertha wonders where her husband Hank might be. Vera  Carp (Scott) calls Bertha to discuss Tuna’s dilemma -  someone  (the “Phantom”)  has been tampering with the yard displays throughout town, and it’s time to choose a winner of the Annual Christmas Yard Display competition. Vera comes over to Bertha’s house to help with the tree and expresses her sincere hopes that she will win the Yard Display contest for the 15th straight year.

Arles drops by to visit Bertha and relates to her the sad news that he has spotted her husband Hank’s car in the parking lot of the local motel.

At Didi Snavely’s Used Weapons Shop, her devoted husband R. R. is hard at work. Visitors to the shop include Bertha’s Aunt Pearl (Alex), looking for a weapon to control her bluejays, Petey (Scott) who’s shopping for a muzzle, Sheriff Givens (Alex), and Ike (Alex) who’s looking for Hank. Finally Bertha  comes by to chat with Didi. The shop’s tree is uniquely decorated with empty beer cans and shotgun shells.

Aunt Pearl returns home to her beloved front-porch rocking chair and her knitting. Stanley comes over to tinker with her Pontiac. A turbaned Dixie Deberry(Scott), sorely in need of foundation garments,  stops by and threatens to cut off the electricity at the community theatre; if this should occur, Stanley won’t be able to complete his community service. Is Dixie the Phantom? Along with Pearl? Are they planning one final heist – why not Vera’s yard??

The plot thickens after Intermission ends. OKKK broadcasts live to announce that the winner of the Yard Display is not Vera, but Inita (Alex)  and Helen (Scott) who both work at the Tastee Kreme Shop. They are delighted to have broken Vera’s winning streak. It seems that the Phantom struck Vera’s yard by “re-decorating” her display and stampeding her sheep.

Over at the Tastee Kreme Shop, customers include Farley (Scott), a “little” person who places an order, Petey, who requests leftover lettuce for his pet iguana, Leonard (Alex) who is the station manager at OKKK, and a hypoglycemic Joe Bob (Alex), director of the Christmas pageant, who is hyper-ventilating because he desperately needs food and is freaking out because Vera has turned off the lights at the community center.

Phoebe Burkhalter (Scott), Farley’s wife, enters  – wondering where their Tastee Kreme order is (Inita’s defrosting the meat with a hair dryer). When produce-purveyor Garland(Scott) stops by (he has special reasons for enjoying his daily route to the Tastee Kreme Shop), Inita talks him into helping her thaw out the meat.

Petey has a conversation with his animals in front of a pie-plated Christmas tree. Didi Snavely chews out her husband R.R. for continuing his search for UFOs. Vera is now at home in a wheelchair; by now she’s figured out who ruined her yard display.

Finally, radio station OKKK signs off on Christmas Eve just before the office Christmas party. Bertha brings hors d’oeuvres for the table and she and Arles discover a surprising mutual affection as they commiserate about their respective awful Christmases past.

Crew for A Tuna Christmas includes:
DiDi Olney Director, House Manager, and Set Designer;
Cara Brzozowski, Stage Manager, Properties Mistress;
Keith Mervine,  Sound and Lighting Designer, Sound and Light Board Operator; Set Designer;
Laurie Foster, Costume Mistress and Dresser;
Mikayla Mervine, Hair and Makeup, and Dresser;
Sherry Mervine, Dresser;
Reagan Garnett, Dresser; and
Alex LaClair, Tuna Baker.

For tickets and for more information you may contact or you may call 443-624-4484.

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