Something familiar, something peculiar, something for everyone, three great shows in the East Bay this week!

This week’s three shows are the epitome of laughter, loonacy and larceny all in an outstanding opportunity for you to enjoy comedies that Pseudolus (the lead character from the A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum, played by Zero Mostel) might have introduced musically as follows:

“Something familiar, something peculiar, something for everyone, Hysteria in sight! Something bodacious, something outrageous, fairies and Indians, lost boys and minions - - Something appealing, something appalling, something for everyone: Peter and Wendy fly each night! - - Nothing with kings, nothing with crowns; bring on the Texans, liars and clowns! Wacky relations, red neck expressions, nothing pretentious or polite; tragedy tomorrow, Tuna tonight!”
I loved this week’s three shows, absolutely loved them ,and I want you to find a way to get out and enjoy them as well.

First of all, Act Now! Theatre in Walnut Creek is presenting the first of what I hope will be the entire “Tuna Texas Trilogy”, a pot full of absurd Texas tongue-in-cheek, back-road redneck comedy.

Greater Tuna is a 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. Following the great success of the first show, a second show evolved, entitled, A Tuna Christmas, which celebrated the Christmas spirit of giving in this far-fetched rural town, and finally, the trilogy was completed when the last show, Red, White and Tuna, evolved from the madness that makes creators Joe Sears, Jaston Williams, and Ed Howard, the finely tuned writing comedy machine they are.

I have laughed and laughed and laughed, until my sides hurt, drinking in the “90 proof” characters in Tuna Texas. Having worked for several years for a company that was headquartered in Dallas, Texas, I know a little bit about the unique mind set of Texans, and while this show is strictly an outrageous and overstated comedy spoof, there are a lot of similarities to persons both living and dead, in this wonderful show.

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.

This production stars Ron Meir (of San Leandro) and Jerry Motta (of Concord), two truly outstanding actors, as well as pluperfect, seasoned comedians. Director Doug Dildine has artfully directed thse two superb actors through their multitude of costume and character changes, with very few flaws. It is a wildly rewarding show!

The show starts off with radio announcers Thurston Wheelis (Ron Meier) and Arles Struvie (Jerry Motta) in the news room, reading the farm and weather reports and sharing local news with their listeners on Tuna Texas’ only radio station, “OKKK”. From there, these two superlative actors weave a magic and absurd synopsis of life in this little farm community, where the essays written by high school students might be entitled, “The Other Side of Bigotry!” And the local high school drama department has salvaged this year’s drama department’s musical, “My Fair Lady”, by setting it in Poly-nees-ia so they can use last year’s costumes from “South Pacific”. Petey Fisk heads up the local “one-man” Greater Tuna Humane Society, where he pleads periodically on the radio station for the local folks to “Save the Trout”, by urging them to throw them “little critters” back in the water after catching them. The show introduces us one by one to the Bumiller Family, each family member wackier than the previous one. What do Aunt Pearl, Didi Snavely, Hank Bumiller, Vera Carp, and this litany of characters have in common? - - A wonderful and wacky world of “wit”, both types, full and half, “That’s what it is, - - it is, - - it is!” The citizenry of Tuna Texas’ motto is simply this, “If you can find some place you like better than Tuna, - - MOVE!!!”

On and on it goes and where it ends up, only you will know, that is, when you buy your tickets and go to the show. Speaking of which, I suggest you call the box office at the Dean Leasher Regional Center for the Arts by calling (925) 943- (SHOW) 7469. The theatre is located in the Knight’s Stage III theatre on the ground floor in the Regional Center at 1601 Civic Drive, in Walnut Creek. You can also visit the company’s web site at to gather more information before you purchase tickets directly at the box office, or over the phone.
Tickets are very reasonable with adult’s $28 – senior’s $23 – and age 17 or under $12.50
This funny production plays Fridays and Saturday evenings at 8:25 p.m., with Sunday performances are at 2:15 pm, continuing now through September 22nd.

Peter Pan is back at the Diablo Light Opera Company to present this truly excellent family entertainment value now through September 29th in the Dean Lesher Regional Center for the Arts at 1601 Civic Drive in Walnut Creek. James M. Barrie’s classic children’s tale of children wanting to “never grow up” has been reformulated by Director Daren A. C. Carollo with even more spectacular sets and costumes, more complicated and imaginative soaring, terrific actors and actresses, thrill young and old alike.

Peter Pan (Brandy Collazo) excels as an adventuresome lad who lives perpetually in Barrie’s wonderful land of adventure where a child will always stay a child, where one never has to grow up and face the trials and tribulations of adulthood. Wendy Darling (Rena Wilson) who plays mother to the “Lost Boys of Never Never Land” is equally enjoyable and believable. Captain Hook (Tom Reardon) is campy and delightfully reprehensible, as is his chief minion, Smee (Marty Newton), as they plot a lot to capture the lost boys and to do away with the flying boy wonder, Peter Pan. The entire cast delivers a stellar production that rivets the children to the edge of their seats.

The outstanding direction on many fronts makes this production near seamless perfection. Choreographer Lawrence Pech sets the upbeat, complicated, intricate interaction in high gear and it never falters for a moment. The dancing Indians, the prancing pirates, the loveable Darling family, all move promptly, exactly as they must, to make this production move along as well as it does. Conductor Cheryl Yee Glass again delivers superb orchestration. The sets designed by Kent Homchick are very innovative and the lighting and sound design by Chris Guptill and Don Tieck contribute significantly to the overall excellence of this production.

The time is perfect for an end of summer adventure with your children and grandchildren, so call the Regional Center at (925) 943- (SHOW) 7469 to reserve your seats. This production plays Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m., with matinees on Saturdays and Sundays at 2 p.m., with two special Thursday 11 a.m. productions on September 20th and 27th. Ticket prices are very reasonable and range between $18 and $40 depending on date and time. This is a STEAL when you consider what it would cost in San Francisco. You can also visit the DLOC web site at for more information.

How many times have you heard the phrase of Bezerkley when one refers to the wild and wacky life styles, entertainment, and city government operations in Berkeley, California? Nothing could be more on the mark when one refers to the current production of Hysteria directed by Terry Johnson at Berkeley’s Aurora Theater at 2081 Addison Street in Berkeley, as completely “Berserkly”, as this madcap comedy/drama unfolds, engaging the psychoanalytical style and mindset of Sigmond Freud, and the bizarre and striking images and lifestyle of Salvador Dali, in one dreamlike, hypothetical encounter.

Sigmund Freud (played by Warren David Keith) is a huge proponent of the use of cocaine as an analgesic and stimulant, and the show begins as he is given an injection of the drug by his physician, Dr. Abraham Yahuda (Charles Dean). What follows is a surreal adventure in which Freud is visited by the daughter of one of his former patients, Jessica (Nancy Carlin) (who can’t keep her clothes on), and by surrealist artist, Salvador Dali (Howard Swain) (who can’t keep his pants on), during Freud’s last days. They explore Freud’s theories and practices and their effects on his patients, and himself. This is a brilliant and surreal piece of theatre that engages your imagination and desire to learn more about these world renowned characters and their messages.

This is an absolutely “crazy” piece of literary genius, and hard to describe fully without giving away the whole story. I highly recommend it and would go back to see it again tomorrow if I could work it in. The acting is exceptional, exciting, and the direction is perfect. This is the kind of imaginative and provocative theatre that I truly enjoy! It is definitely for adult audiences.

This production plays through Wednesdays through Saturdays at 8 p.m., Sundays at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. in the Aurora theatre at 2081 Addison Street (in the same block as Berkeley Repertory Theater) in Berkeley. Call (510) 843-4822 or visit their website at for ticket information or reservations.