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WST's Studio 3 opens with Red, White and Tuna!

October 29, 2009

PHILADELPHIA, PA: The Walnut Street Theatre's 2009-2010 Independence Studio on 3 season opens with Red, White and Tuna - the tale of a tiny Texas town celebrating a very crazy Fourth of July. Directed by Barrymore Award winner Madi Distefano and featuring the talents of Bill Van Horn and John Zak; Red, White and Tuna starts on November 24, opens on December 3 and closes on January 3.

It's the Fourth of July in Tuna, and all comic hell is about to break loose as the third smallest town in Texas gears up for Tuna High School reunion. There's a lot of gossip that needs to be put right. Is the romance between Bertha and Arles sparkling? Will the Smut Snatchers take on the political correctness of the hymns being sung over at the First Methodist Church? And just wait until you see who wins this year's "Tuna Reunion Queen Contest!" Two actors (Bill Van Horn and John Zak) bring twenty-four hilarious characters to life right in front of your eyes. Fun and fireworks are in store with Red, White and Tuna. If it wasn't for that faint sound of Velcro, you'd swear it was magic!

The Greater Tuna Series, the most successful stage trilogy (well, It's up to four shows now) 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. Red, White and Tuna premiered in 1998 and has garnered numerous award nominations regionally.

The cast of Red, White and Tuna combines old and new faces to make an entirely new experience. Joining Tuna veteran John Zak is South Philly actor, director and playwright Bill Van Horn. Bill has appeared at the Walnut in a number of different roles over the past few seasons. He has appeared onstage with Man of La Mancha, Carousel, Studio 3's The Dishwashers and The Fantasticks (among others). Backstage, Bill has directed productions for all three Walnut series, including A Christmas Carol, The Dishwashers, Forrest: A Riot of Dreams and 2008's hit production of Neil Simon's The Odd Couple. This past season, Bill wrote and starred in our acclaimed Studio 3 production of O Captain, My Captain: Whitman's Lincoln. Bill is a resident of South Philadelphia, and spends his summers with the Theatre at Monmouth in Maine. 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.

Running Red, White and Tuna up the flagpole is Director Madi Distefano. Madi is very well known to the Philly theatre community, and is well acquainted with Tuna, having directed the first two installments of the Tuna story, 2007's Greater Tuna and last year's A Tuna Christmas. 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 direction of Brat Productions' recent presentation of Haunted Poe.

Behind the scenes, the Walnut welcomes back some of the folks that brought Greater Tuna and A Tuna Christmas to life while also welcoming some new faces into the family. Joining returning Lighting Designer Shon Causer and Sound Designer Christopher Colucci are Costume Designer Julia Poiez (Berenstain Bears Family Matters) and Scenic Designer Adam Riggar (Mr. Bailey's Minder). Get ready for a new look for Tuna, Texas!