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Veteran actors bring Greater Tuna to Hillsboro

In the alliterative town of Tuna, Texas, nothing much goes on. Given that it's third smallest town in Texas, the good denizens must create their own amusements. Belying this seemingly innocent municipality lies a hotbed of emotional turmoil, political insensitivities, and domestic issues, just broiling under that hot Texas sun. But like any good ole boy mentality, those situations are sometimes subtly and sometimes outrageously exploited in the comedy, "Greater Tuna," the Hillsboro Artists Regional Theatre season opener.

Creators Jaston Williams and Joe Sears have created a cacophony of relateable characters. First there's Aunt Pearl Burras, a sweet little old lady that just loves to raise chickens and poison hunting dogs - by "accident" of course. Next, there's Vera, Tuna's own socialite with illusions of grandeur and Stanley, the town's token hoodlum. Playing over 10 characters each are veteran actors Ken Centers and Scott Skinner, slipping into their roles with ease and familiarity.

Centers and Skinner have been playing in "Greater Tuna" for over six years. Centers with Director Dan Harry first thought of bringing "Greater Tuna" to Forest Grove as they needed a "small play" for the small Westside Theater dinner venue. Thinking Centers was perfect as the "big guy," they asked Skinner to be the "skinny guy." He had reservations, having never heard of the play and then after reading it, "thought it was overwhelming" to play so many characters.

Centers said the inspiration for many of his roles is based on people he has seen in his life and Skinner felt that Williams and Sears wrote about real life characters. And you may recognize one or two yourself.

Skinner added that the costumes help create many of the characters. They suspect they have as many as 30 costumes changes among the 10 characters each plays. Centers noted that one of his characters is even Yippy the dog, though this one is heard and not seen. They also felt that an understated set supports the character development, inviting the audience to fill in the details.