Casting announced for Bushnell-produced staging of the hilarious comedy Greater Tuna
HARTFORD, CT – March 23, 2009 – Casting for the hilarious comedy Greater Tuna, which is being produced by The Bushnell Center for the Performing Arts as part of The Hartford Financial Services Group Broadway Series, has been announced. The comedy, which will run May 26-31, 2009, will star Brian Mathis and Neal Mayer, and will be directed by Robert Tolaro. Tickets are on sale now.
This locally-produced, non-touring production of Greater Tuna follows the success of last season’s Bushnell-produced The Music Man – A 50th Anniversary Tribute. Scott Galbraith, Vice President of Programming for The Bushnell is Executive Producer.
Greater Tuna is a side-splitting social satire set in Tuna, Texas, the state’s third smallest town, where the Lion's Club is too liberal and Patsy Cline never dies. The eclectic band of Tuna citizens are all portrayed by two uniquely talented actors, making this spoof on life in rural America even more delightful as they depict 21 inhabitants of Tuna - men, women, children and animals. This irreverent and insightful send-up of small town life is a “tour-de-farce” of costume quick-changes and comic characterizations.
The show began nearly 30 years ago in Austin, Texas as a simple party skit based on a political cartoon. Talented creators Joe Sears, Jaston Williams and Ed Howard were the imaginative authors that parlayed the sketch into a critically acclaimed cottage industry which has entertained audiences across the country ever since. The national tour, which lasted for more than 25 years, launched from Hartford Stage.
Neal Mayer has appeared on Broadway in Les Misérables and off-Broadway in Forbidden Broadway, Plaisir D’Amour, Walmartopia, Golf, the Musical, and That’s Life! (CD). For 15 months, he starred in the original New York production of Bush is Bad, playing Dubya, Cheney, W. Mark Felt and others, and can be heard on the original cast recording. He just completed a run in the Schoolhouse Theater production of S.N. Behrman’s Biography, where he had previously appeared in The Sisters Rosensweig. Neal’s regional credits include the world premiere of Memphis at North Shore Music Theatre, Animal Crackers at Arena Stage, Starcrossed at Goodspeed, The Secret Garden at Weston Playhouse, Sight Unseen at Charlotte Repertory, Falsettos at Skylight Opera, Picasso at the Lapin Agile at the Depot Theatre and Married Alive at Act II Playhouse. Neal dedicates his performance to his father and late mother who saw many shows together at The Bushnell when they started dating sixty years ago!
Brian Mathis is a Native Texan but not from Tuna, and is thrilled to be making his debut at The Bushnell! He has appeared on the National Equity tours of Seussical with Cathy Rigby and Jesus Christ Superstar. Regionally he has appeared with Alabama Shakespeare Festival, Tennessee Rep, and Nashville Shakespeare. For two seasons he was resident/actor teacher for Casa Manana Children’s Playhouse in Fort Worth,TX, appearing in over 12 productions and 8 Main Stage Productions. He is co-founder of Nashville’s Spontaneous Comedy Company Improv show. He appeared on CBS’s Walker, Texas Ranger and Lifetime’s Blue Valley Songbird. Favorite roles include the Man in Idols of the King, Warbucks in Annie, and Orin ,Snip, Luce, etc, in Little Shop of Horrors..Also numerous, commercials, video, anime, and industrial projects. In late 2009, he will make his Broadway debut in Angels the musical as Michael the Arch Angel. www.angelsthemusical.com. Special thanks to Scott Galbraith and love to Michelle and Rachel and Clayton for supporting Daddy!
Robert Tolaro is an Equity professional actor and stage manager, and an accomplished director. He just completed directing A Number by Caryl Churchill and happily includes Lettice and Lovage in his directing repertoire. He holds an MFA in Theatre from Trinity University in San Antonio, Texas and has directed over 45 productions over his varied career. Among his directing achievements include The Hasty Heart, The Gin Game, I Ought to be in Pictures, Gemini, Seascape, The Four Poster, The Oldest Living Graduate, Oliver, Great Expectations, Archy and Mehitabel, Lu Ann Hampton Laverty Oberlander, and many Shakespeare productions including Othello, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, The Merry Wives of Windsor, A Comedy of Errors, and Much Ado About Nothing. He received an Emmy Award for Best Director for his signed and voiced production of Moliere’s The Miser which aired on National PBS stations. When not directing, Robert is a professional Equity stage manager, having worked for the Greater Tuna shows and Menopause the Musical across the country. He has had the privilege of stage managing many notables including Carol Burnett, Willie Nelson, Lyle Lovett, Tommy Tune, Walter Cronkite, Nancy Dussault, Fannie Flagg, Van Clyburn and of course, the original cast of Greater Tuna, Tony-nominated A Tuna Christmas at the Booth Theatre on Broadway, Red White and Tuna and Tuna Does Vegas, Joe Sears and Jaston Williams. A native of Ohio, Robert now lives in Austin, Texas.
Tickets for Greater Tuna are on sale now, and can be purchased by visiting The Bushnell Box Office at 166 Capitol Avenue in Hartford or by calling (860) 987-5900. Tickets may also be purchased online at www.bushnell.org. Groups of 10 or more should call (860) 987-5959. Curtain times for Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday evening performances are at 7:30 p.m.; Friday and Saturday evenings at 8:00 p.m.; and Saturday and Sunday matinees at 2:00 p.m.
About The Bushnell Center for the Performing Arts
The Bushnell is Connecticut’s premier performing arts center, hosting more than 350 events yearly, including major Broadway tours, symphony orchestras, family presentations, local arts and community events. The Bushnell is home to two theaters- the historic 2,800-seat Mortensen Hall, and the 907-seat Belding Theater, a state-of-the-art performance hall that opened in 2001. The Bushnell’s nationally recognized arts-in-education program, PARTNERS® (Partners in Arts and Education Revitalizing Schools), now in its 16th year, is a cross-community educational effort serving 15 schools in 6 districts, serving approximately 3,400 Pre-K-12 students. The Bushnell opened in January 1930 and is a non-profit organization. For more information, call The Bushnell at (860) 987-6000, The Bushnell Box Office at (860) 987-5900 or visit our website at www.bushnell.org.
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With support from the Connecticut Commission on Culture and Tourism.