The Bossier Parish Community College Cavalier Players traveled to the Chicagoland area August 11-17 to perform the Performing Arts Theatre Program’s summer production of the hilarious Texas comedy, Greater Tuna by Jaston Williams, Joe Sears, and Ed Howard.
The weekend of performances was a joint production with BPCC Performing Arts and the Canterbury Summer Theatre, a professional non-Equity summer stock theatre under the Festival Players Guild. All performances were at The Mainstage Theatre in Michigan City, Indiana.
The play featured performances of BPCC Theatre students Jesse Kortus, Connor Snow, Denise Dalton, and Hannah Monette. Austin Jennings assisted the troupe as stage manager along with Lari Leber as assistant stage manager. BPCC staffers David White and Keith Bruce accompanied the troupe to offer technical support as scenic and lighting designers and technical directors. Dr. Ray Scott Crawford, dean of Communication and Performing Arts at BPCC, directed the play. Crawford is also artistic director of the Canterbury, a position he has held for twenty-nine years.
“This is the tenth summer we have co-produced with the Canterbury Summer Theatre and toured BPCC’s summer production to Michigan City,” said Crawford. “In previous years at Canterbury, BPCC has received regional recognition for its presentations of The Star-Spangled Girl, The Woman in Black, and Echoes. Last summer, the group took Neil Simon’s Barefoot in the Park. We were excited to continue that tradition this year by taking our students in this production to complete Canterbury’s season of five musicals and comedies.”
Greater Tuna’s cast of four play over twenty characters in the fictitious town of Tuna, Texas, which is identified as being located “about halfway between San Angelo and hell.” The story explores the lives of these characters in a typical day in the small Texas town. Though the action takes place in the early ’80s, nothing has changed since then.
In addition to the BPCC tour, a number of BPCC’s theatre graduates and students filled technical positions during the entire summer season at the Canterbury. Samantha Rogers was the company costume designer and Jay Allen, Matthew Lorenz, and Emily Dollar worked as technical assistants.
“Performing and working at Canterbury provides a professional venue for a BPCC production and a professional opportunity for our students,” adds Crawford. “As artistic director of the Canterbury, I am able to provide an additional quality production for the theatre’s audiences while at the same time providing a showcase for BPCC’s Theatre Program.”
The students and staff arrived at the Canterbury late Monday night for an orientation with Canterbury staff and a tour of the theatre facility. Tuesday and Wednesday was spent building and finishing the set, setting lights, and rehearsing the show. Wednesday evening allowed for one complete dress rehearsal then, the cast presented three wonderfully received performances of the show over the weekend.
Friday, the group spent the day sightseeing in nearby Chicago and attending a matinee of Chicago Shakespeare Theatre’s production of Seussical.
Plans are already in the works to take next summer’s BPCC production to the Canterbury to continue the tradition.