Laugh it up with ‘Greater Tuna’

  • Photo courtesy Alex Sirois

    Rhonda Kulhanek also takes on the role of town snob Vera Carp in the hit comedy play “Greater Tuna,” hosted by Women In Theatre at WIT’s End at Kukui Grove Center in Lihue.

  • Photo courtesy Alex Sirois

    Rhonda Kulhanek and Bailey Hutton play the entire cast of 20 in “Greater Tuna,” including disc jockeys, Arles Struvie and Thurston Wheelis, above. The play is on at Women In Theatre’s space at Kukui Grove Center in Lihue.

  • Photo courtesy Alex Sirois

    Women In Theatre’s Bailey Hutton performs multiple roles in “Greater Tuna,” including Pearl Burras, seen here, who has a penchant for killing dogs. The play is on at the WIT space at Kukui Grove Center in Lihue.

LIHUE — Women in Theatre are acting up again, currently performing the comedic play “Greater Tuna” at its new location in Lihue. The performance is WIT’s End Theatre’s first production of the year and second since the group found its new home at Kukui Grove Center in October 2017.

The theatrical comedy, called “sharp, satiric and funny” by The New Yorker, is about the third smallest town in Texas, where the Lion’s Club is too liberal and Patsy Cline never dies. Set in the fictional town of Tuna, the play is an affectionate commentary on small-town, Southern life and attitudes. Originally written and performed more than three decades ago, the residents of Tuna couldn’t be more current.

The long-running off-Broadway hit features two local actors, Bailey Hutton and Rhonda Kulhanek. What makes this satirical play even more entertaining is the fact that Hutton and Kulhanek create the entire population of Tuna, playing the entire cast including men, women, children and animals.

“Whether you grew up in Texas or Kauai, you will identify with many of these characters,” Kulhanek said. “And you get the added bonus of seeing all 20 characters played by only two actors, which adds an extra layer of fun and magic.”

Directed by Cass and Nell Foster, this “tour de force” of quick-change artistry has the actors changing costumes and characterizations faster than a jackrabbit runs from a coyote, creating a big barrel of laughs. If you leave the theater without a stitch in your side, you might want to check your pulse or your hearing.

“Having been born and raised in Texas, it’s a thrill for me to bring these characters to life on Kauai,” Kulhanek said. “And it’s so much fun to play characters who are quite different than me — from a male radio host to a cranky old lady.”

The play runs about one hour and 45 minutes, including a 20-minute intermission. Performances started March 30, and will continue Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 7 p.m, and Sunday at 4 p.m. at WIT’s End Theater in Lihue’s Kukui Grove Center.

General admission is $20; a reserved table for four is $100.

WIT anticipates producing three to four shows each season, as well as continuing its legacy of Kauai Shorts, a festival of 10-minute original plays. WIT also intends to collaborate with and host other theatrical groups in its new space, including Kauai Performing Arts Center and its up-coming production of “The Addams Family” musical.

Info: (808) 635-3727, womenintheatre.org/greater-tuna

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John Steinhorst, staff writer and photographer, can be reached at 245-0445 or jsteinhorst@thegardenisland.com.

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