Taking on the challenge of telling the stories of 22 completely unique characters with only two actors, acting troupe Good Luck Macbeth opened “A Tuna Christmas” last week and will perform the show at 7:30 p.m. today, Friday, Saturday, Dec. 16, 17 and 18 and at 3 p.m. on Dec. 19.
“It is fitting for the holidays,” said Scott Reeves, president of Good Luck Macbeth. “It is uplifting and funny.
“It is a tremendous challenge for a director,” Reeves added. “There are two actors, they each play 11 characters apiece. Granted, one of those characters is a dog and one of those characters is a cat.”
Actress Liz Weiss and actor Tony DeGeiso are up to the challenge, which includes changing costumes in less than a minute while, in some cases, still reciting lines backstage for the character on stage to interact with.
“There are three costumers working on the show to help them,” Reeves said. “There is a lot of circling around. They leave the stage as one character and almost instantly almost walk back on as another character.”
Picking the right actors is crucial to such an intricate performance, but a talented director is just as important.
“Amanda Alvey is one of the funniest people I’ve ever met,” Reeves said of the director. “She was the person that I had in mind from the beginning. She has very good comedic timing. She has put together a very good show, with a very powerful cast. And it’s going to be a lot of fun.”
Weiss said “A Tuna Christmas” has tested her acting ability, but that she loves it.
“I didn’t know much about the show, I just knew I had to have an accent,” Weiss said about being asked by Alvey to audition for “A Tuna Christmas.”
“This is probably the most difficult thing I’ve done,” Weiss added. “I leave as Didi and come on as Petey (Fisk) in less than 10 seconds.”
In her list of characters, Weiss said Didi is her favorite out of her 11 townspeople from “Tuna.”
“I’ve never played anything like her,” Weiss said. “She’s kind of dark and has a sick sense of humor. She is so different from me. It is fun to play a character like her.”
Although Didi is a tough woman who enjoys yelling at her husband, Weiss said the character has more depth than that.
“Didi takes care of her mother and her mother is senile,” Weiss said. “But when her best friend Bertha comes around, it shows a different side of her.”
Although life keeps going for people living in Tuna, the annual Christmas yard-decorating contest hosted by the local radio station stops 14-time champion Vera Carp in her tracks. Weiss also plays Vera, the wealthiest woman in Tuna, who might seem nice … when she is in public. Weiss said the yard contest brings out Vera’s competitive, must-win nature.
“It’s going to be good,” assistant director James Schlauch said. “It’s definitely been a heavy load on the show’s shoulders, the actors and the stage crew. It is an amazing group.
“The talent the actors have to transition between the different characters,” Schlauch added, “they all have different stories and personalities.”
“People will never see anything else like this,” Weiss said, adding she and DeGeiso play both men and women. “They will hopefully laugh their butts off.”
“A Tuna Christmas” will be performed in Good Luck Macbeth’s new space located at 119 N. Virginia St. in downtown Reno, directly across the street from the ice skating rink.
In addition to “A Tuna Christmas,” Good Luck Macbeth will perform “The Boy Who Could Not Shudder or Shake” as part of its children’s theater at 1 p.m. every Saturday through January. Tickets are $5 to $10.
Tickets for “A Tuna Christmas” cost $15 for general admission and $10 for students or seniors. Tickets can be purchased by calling 322-3716 or by visiting www.goodluckmacbeth.org.