• 68°

BLT’s ‘Tuna Christmas’scheduled for Dec. 7-9

If David Parker or James Minter have seemed a littleschizophrenic lately, you’ll have to forgive them.

For the last couple of weeks, they’ve each had 11 differentpersonalities running around in their heads.

The reason is Brookhaven Little Theatre’s upcoming production of”A Tuna Christmas.” The play, which opens BLT’s 2000-01 season, isscheduled for Thursday-Saturday, Dec. 7-9, at 7:30 nightly at theHaven.

Parker and Minter star as the oddball collection of Tuna, Texas,citizens as they prepare for Christmas. The production centersaround the town’s Annual Christmas Yard Display contest, a troubledChristmas play that’s run afoul of the local Smut Snatchers cluband the search for the elusive Christmas Phantom.

Among others, Parker plays the roles of the radio announcerThurston Wheelis; Sheriff Givens, who had an embarrassing childhoodproblem, and Elmer Watkins, who has a certain affinity for thingswhite. Parker also stars as the put-upon Bertha Bumiller, trying tohave her family together and happy for the holiday.

Getting out of one character’s dress during a recent rehearsal,Parker said his wife likes to joke that he plays different roleevery day at work.

“This is the first time I’ve played a lot of women, though,”said Parker, who was also in BLT’s production of “GreaterTuna.”

Minter embodies the roles of fellow radio announcer ArlesStruvie and Bumiller’s children, Stanley, Jody and Charlene, allwith their own quirks and idiosycrasies. Minter is also cast as thepet-loving Petey Fisk and the gun-loving weapons shop owner DidiSnavely.

Costume director Janis Meyer is in charge of keeping thecharacters straight backstage. She ranks “A Tuna Christmas” as oneof the most challenging of her BLT activities, which includeapproximately 20 plays since 1993.

“I’ve done more, but they’ve never been this fast-moving,” saidMeyer about costume change while also mentioning “The Women,” whichhad over 100 costume changes.

In this play, Parker and Minter have only about five to 45seconds to change from character to character. Meyer credited theactors’ range and talent for their ability to change soquickly.

“They have to change voices, costumes, accessories…and it’sall split-second timing,” Meyer said.

Director Angela Johnston said Meyer, prop coordinator AngelaPortrey and other backstage members have done a great job inpreparing for the play. She also credited Parker and Minter formaking it easy on a first-time director.

“It has been really fun,” Johnston said. “The guys have beengreat to work with.”

Johnston said the audience will enjoy getting to know theresidents of Tuna. Meyer agreed.

“I think it’s one of the funniest plays we’ve done in a longtime,” Meyer said.