Cast of four poke fun at tiny town’s holiday woes when Kent County Theatre Guild’s comedy ‘A Tuna Christmas’ opens Dec. 3.


When Bruce Leister wanders onto the Kent County Theatre Guild stage in blue satin peep-toe heels, a fur coat, wig and mumu that’s vintage Sears catalog, circa 1983, there’s nothing serious about it. It’s pure fun. In part because he has a goatee, and there aren’t plans to shave it before opening night.

Lightness and laughter were the goals in performing “A Tuna Christmas” at the Kent County Theatre Guild, according to Director Patti Gatto.

“If you bring a box of tissues it’s to wipe the tears away from laughing,” she said.

The show opens at 8 p.m. Friday, Dec. 3, at the guild’s home at 140 E. Roosevelt Ave., Dover.

The residents of Tuna, the third-smallest town in Texas, are the heart of the production. It’s Christmas Eve and the town’s eccentric residents are realizing that everything that can go wrong has. They’re trying to nab the Christmas Phantom, who’s sabotaging the annual yard decorating contest, while the local production of “A Christmas Carol” is falling apart and family drama is at a peak.

The pitfalls of the holidays are experienced by Tuna’s wacky residents, who are all embodied by four actors: Mike Polo, Denis Stanton, Will McVay and Bruce Leister.

Gatto wanted to do a show with male leads to get some fresh faces and experienced members to meet on stage.

“These four, in the auditions, had the best chemistry of the group,” she said. “I enjoy working with a cast that trusts each other.”

The real stars of the show are the size 13 women’s heels and Christmas trees that move on and off the stage, Gatto said, laughing. The show calls for quick costume and set changes, but no props; all props are mimed because of the fast pace.

McVay described the show as satirical, and said it was clearly written to poke fun at the small town lifestyle. And although there is one classic Christmas theme — importance of family and community — it’s no Hallmark movie.

“There’s none of those cheesy moments ... when there’s dreamy music playing in the background,” McVay said.

 “A Tuna Christmas” has left audiences laughing when the guild performed scenes at a Central Delaware Chamber of Commerce event and a mixer at the start of the season. One of its sister plays, “Greater Tuna,” was a hit for the guild in the early ’90s as well.

“There’s a line from the show we quote: ‘It was fun. It was just fun,’” Gatto said.


Email Sarika Jagtiani at sarika.jagtiani@doverpost.com