America's Oldest · Founded 1808

The Boys are Back! Studio 3's A Tuna Christmas playing now!

November 12, 2008

PHILADELPHIA, PA: The Walnut Street Theatre's 2008-2009 Independence Studio on 3 season opens with A Tuna Christmas, the tale of a tiny Texas town celebrating a very stange holiday season! Directed by Barrymore Award winner Madi Distefano and featuring the talents of Benjamin Lloyd and John Zak, A Tuna Christmas starts on November 25, opens on December 4 and closes on January 4.

It's Christmas Eve in Tuna, Texas, and all comic hell is about to break loose as the delightfully eccentric characters attempt to cope with seasonal traumas, including a disaster-prone little theatre production of A Christmas Carol. Baptist extraordinaire, Vera Carp, has visions of winning the local Yard Display Contest dancing through her head, but a mysterious "Christmas Phantom" is defacing people's displays. Now, Vera's life-size statues of Bing Crosby and Natalie Wood in the living nativity scene (complete with live sheep) are in jeopardy while Bertha Bumiller's family is falling apart on the spot. Her surly twins Stanley and Charlene, and her philandering husband cannot even find the time to trim the tree and bake cookies. A down home Christmas never looked like this! Two actors (Benjamin Lloyd and John Zak) bring twenty-four hilarious characters to life in this hilarious holiday tale.

The Greater Tuna Series, the most successful stage trilogy of all time, has garnered many awards in its history. Together, creators Joe Sears and Jaston Williams received the Los Angeles Dramalogue Award for acting and writing in Greater Tuna, and for ensemble acting in A Tuna Christmas. A Tuna Christmas was honored by being selected to be published in "Best Plays of 1995."

A Tuna Christmas marks the return of the cast of last year's hit, Greater Tuna. Benjamin Lloyd and John Zak had audiences rolling in the aisles last year, bringing over 20 characters to life. Walnut audiences will remember Ben from his earlier schizophrenic stage acting, taking on 9 different characters in 2005's Stones in His Pockets. He teaches performance at the Philadelphia University of the Arts, has performed internationally, and is the author of The Actor's Way: A Journey of Self-Discovery in Letters (published in 2006). John Zak tackles the other half of the cast. John works extensively with Comedy Sportz and Bad Hair Sketch Comedy. Both Ben and John have been nominated for Barrymore Awards in past years, with John winning the 2006 Award for Best Supporting Actor in a Play for his portrayal of Caliban in Lantern Theatre's production of The Tempest.

Holding the reins on this whirlwind of a show is Director Madi Distefano. Madi is very well known to the Philly theatre community, and is well acquainted with Tuna, having directed last year's Greater Tuna. Madi has been nominated numerous times for the Barrymore Awards, winning the Best Leading Actress in Play award in 2005. She wears many hats around Philadelphia, including (but not limited to) playwright, actor, director and educator. Madi garnered much critical acclaim for her one woman show (Popsicle's Departure, 1989), at this past summer's Edinburgh Fringe Festival.

Behind the scenes, the Walnut welcomes back all the folks that brought last year's Greater Tuna to life. Putting a yuletide spin on Texas's third smallest town are Meghan Jones (Set Design), Alisa Sicora"