Richard Duncan and Harold Chambers lose count when trying to name all the characters they play in Barn Lot Theater’s upcoming production of “Red, White and Tuna,” the third in a series of comedic plays written by Jaston Williams, Joe Sears and Ed Howard about the tiny town of Tuna, Texas.
Duncan plays about 11 characters, while Chambers plays 10 including both male and female parts.
“It’s confusing at times,” Duncan said.
Because they portray many characters, they rely on Emily Coffey and Jeanne Marie Selby to help them remember who they are playing in each scene.
Coffey and Selby are costume changers who have the actors’ costumes ready for each scene.
“Sometimes I can’t remember who my next character is until I go back there and they have my costume ready and then I know what the next thing is,” Duncan said. “If we didn’t have our costumers back there, it would really be a challenge remembering which costume and whose character is next.”
Chambers agreed and said, “I go backstage and say, ‘Who is this? Who am I now?’ The dressers, they do all of that. They make everything work.”
“Red, White and Tuna” is the third play Chambers and Duncan have done for theater. They agreed to do another play about Tuna, Texas because the plays are a favorite among theater fans, they said.
“The audiences enjoy it and that’s a big thing,” Chambers said. “If you can entertain and people can forget their worries for a little while they are watching the play, that’s what it is worth.”
Transforming two men into women can be a challenge at times.
“It’s difficult to find women’s shoe sizes in a size for a man who wears a size 15,” said Vivien Worthen-Powell, who is in charge of costumes for the play. “You have to be creative on where you find things and how you make things.”
Worthen-Powell is also charged with the duty of helping to make the costume changes quick, which can make behind-the-scenes hectic, she said.
“It really is because everything has to be really fast because in some of these costume changes they have three sentences in the script,” she said. “One is on stage speaking, while the other one is backstage changing clothes.”
To help make changing costumes easier, a lot of Velcro, snaps and zippers were used in making the costumes, she said.
“Red, White and Tuna,” is just as funny as the other plays in the series, according to Shane Chambers-Ennis, producer. “
The quality of the humor, the quality of the writing by the three men who create them hasn’t diminished any, which you sometimes find when you have a series of plays,” she said.
Seeing Duncan and Chambers when they are playing the female parts adds to the humor, Chambers-Ennis said.
“Richard and Harold make two of the most unlovely looking ladies, while at the same time all the ladies that they play have a charm that the audiences just love,” she said. “They do not look feminine at all.”
“Red, White and Tuna” opens at the Barn Lot Theater in Edmonton on Oct. 6 and plays Oct. 7- 8, Oct. 13- 15, Oct. 20 - 23 at 7 p.m. Reservations can be obtained by calling 432-2276 or through the theater’s website at www.barnlottheater.org.