Few shows have sustained the longevity and popularity that Greater Tuna has enjoyed over the years. The Greater Tuna legend is now a matter of history - a history we are happy to share with you today.
The show began as a simple party skit based on a political cartoon more than 25 years ago in Austin, Texas. Talented creators Joe Sears, Jaston Williams and Ed Howard were the imaginative authors that parlayed the sketch into a critically acclaimed production which has entertained audiences across the country ever since.
Greater Tuna is the hilarious comedy about Texas' third smallest town, where the Lion's Club is too liberal and Patsy Cline never dies. The eclectic band of citizens that make up this town are portrayed by only two performers, making this satire on life in rural America even more delightful as they depict all of the inhabitants of Tuna -- men, women, children and animals.
The production began in the fall of 1981 in Austin, Texas and early tour dates found an instant audience coast to coast as the show played to packed houses in San Francisco, Atlanta, Houston and Hartford before original stars Joe Sears and Jaston Williams found themselves performing Greater Tuna for over a year Off-Broadway at Circle in the Square Theatre starting in 1982. This successful New York run lead to an HBO Special produced by Norman Lear which took the "Tuna" phenomenon to every city in America.
By 1985, Greater Tuna was the most produced play in the United States with schools, colleges, community and professional theatres all anxious to add the hit comedy to their repertoire. Meanwhile, Joe Sears and Jaston Williams were continuing their whirlwind tours in such prestigious theatres as the Kennedy Center h Washington D.C. and the Marines Memorial Theatre in San Francisco.
Greater Tuna's popularity crossed the Atlantic in 1988 as the highlight of Scotland's famed Edinburgh Festival. Back at home, the Marines Memorial Theatre in San Francisco began a local production of Greater Tuna which ran continuously for a record-breaking seven years.
The popularity of Greater Tuna has even extended to the most distinguished home in the country, with Command Performances at the White House upon the invitation of President and Mrs. Bush in 1990 and again in 1991.
The demand for a sequel then became so great that writers Jaston Williams, Joe Sears and Ed Howard created A Tuna Christmas, in which the much beloved citizens of Tuna contribute their special brand of humor to that holiday for their appreciative audiences nationwide.
In December of 1994, A Tuna Christmas took Broadway by storm, playing to rave reviews and turning the toughest critics into "Tuna" fans. In return they presented Joe Sears with the esteemed honor of a Tony Award nomination for Best Actor in a Play.
To complete the Tuna Trilogy, creators Jaston Williams, Joe Sears and Ed Howard wrote the third installment entitled Red, White and Tuna, which continued to received popular and critical success from a major tours across the country.
The "Tuna" franchise became a Quadrilogy in 2008 with Tuna Does Vegas. Tuna Does Vegas re-unites the lovable and eccentric characters from the 'third smallest town in Texas' as they take a rambling romp in Sin City.
2010 brings a new tour of A Tuna Christmas with the original cast.