The Times photo by Betsy Reason
Barb Weaver of Noblesville (right) plays Pete Risk, head of the Humane Society in Tuna, Texas, and Diane Wilson of Carmel (left) is Bertha Bumiller, a widow and mother of three children who is seeking love, are among three actors who portray 21 characters in “Red, White and Tuna,” a comedy opening Friday at The Belfry Theatre in Noblesville.
The Times photo by Betsy Reason Barb Weaver of Noblesville (right) plays Pete Risk, head of the Humane Society in Tuna, Texas, and Diane Wilson of Carmel (left) is Bertha Bumiller, a widow and mother of three children who is seeking love, are among three actors who portray 21 characters in “Red, White and Tuna,” a comedy opening Friday at The Belfry Theatre in Noblesville.
Barb Weaver portrays seven characters, makes 16 costume changes and dons three different wigs.
Diane Wilson plays six characters, makes six costume changes and wears five different wigs.
Adam Workman plays eight characters, makes 16 costume changes and wears four different wigs.
The trio of actors play a total of 21 characters in The Belfry Theatre’s final show of its 2018-19 season. The comedy, “Red, White and Tuna” opens Friday and continues through June 16 on the Noblesville stage.
The play is set in Tuna, the third-smallest town in Texas, with 10 male and 10 female stereotyped Texan characters taking the audience on a ride into the polyester-clad third installment in the Tuna trilogy (“Greater Tuna” was produced at the Belfry in the 1990/1991 season and “A Tuna Christmas” was produced at the Belfry in the 2000/2001 season) takes the audience through another satirical ride into the hearts and minds of the polyester-clad citizens of Tuna.) (Audiences should know that they need not to have seen the other Tuna productions to enjoy this one.)
“One of my favorite parts of doing a show is developing the character. In this show, I get to develop eight characters, so the fun was multiplied,” said Weaver, a Noblesville resident who works in information technology at Anthem.
One moment, she’s Elmer Watkins, president of the independent nation of Free White Texas. A good ol’ boy. Wearing a blue windbreaker and an NRA hat.
And the next moment, she is Didi Snavely, a used-guns store owner, wearing plastic -- a raincoat and hat lined with camouflage fabric -- because it’s easy to clean.
She puts on a denim shirt and a hat with ear flaps to become Pete Risk, head of Tuna’s Humane Society.
Weaver then models a maternity top and pink pants as Charlene Bumiller, “a very pregnant” Army wife.
She wears a black T-shirt and jeans and boots as Stanley Bumiller, a reformed juvenile delinquent and artist. As Vera Carp, she is head of Tuna Society and wears a pink robe in Act I and a pink suit in Act II.
And as Garland Poteet, she’s a pop delivery man wearing a khaki work shirt and hat with soda caps on it.
Stanley is one of two favorite roles. “It’s a challenge to play a man, trying to talk and sit the right way,” Weaver said. She loves that he is a successful artist who can have a little fun with his art and is fond of his Aunt Pearl.
Her other favorite role is Didi, an unrefined sort. “It was a challenge to get her raspy chain-smoking voice right.”
Weaver said the greatest challenge is making each character unique, with different voices, mannerisms and how they walk.
“Keeping them straight is not too difficult. The hard part is remembering who comes next and which costume to put on,” said Weaver, who wears three different wigs and has 16 costume changes.
Thankfully, show dresser and student of theater Addie Taylor, who also does hair and makeup, is always off stage helping get the next costume ready.
The actors “set” their costumes backstage as they would their props.
Actress Diane Wilson of Carmel, a travel agent by day and who was last seen in The Belfry’s “Our Town,” actually made a color-coded chart for herself. “I coordinated the colors on paper, for my characters’ costumes, with my characters’ highlighted lines, from my script, on an Excel spreadsheet,” Wilson said, showing her chart.
It’s Wilson’s first time playing more than one character in a play. She plays six different characters, who wear five different costumes and wigs.
She wears six different costumes and five wigs. Near the beginning of the play, she has three back-to-back costume and wig changes. She has another at the end. In Act II, she has six more costume and wig changes, “four of which are back to back to back to back,” for a total of 10 costume changes for the show.
Wilson plays Star Birdfeather, an aging, vegetarian marijuana-smoking hippie, who wears a bright pink muumuu with a long animal vest over it, sandals, a crown of flowers and rose-colored glasses.
Wilson, as Thurston Wheelis, plays an older man who lives in Tuna and who is one of the local deejays at radio station OKKK. He wears a red and black plaid flannel shirt and bib overalls, along with buckskin cowboy hat and boots.
One of Wilson’s favorite roles is Inita Goodwin, who wears a poor -fitting turquoise peasant blouse, a black square-dancing skirt, black tennis shoes and a bright pink belt. “She carries her boots because she never gets the chance to put on foot powder.”
She also plays R.R. Snavely, Didi’s estranged husband, wearing a green-checkered shirt and overalls, boots and a cowboy hat.
As Bertha Bumiller, a widow and mother of three children who is seeking love with radio deejay Aries Struvie, Wilson wears two different outfits, hot-pink slacks, a white blouse and purple-and-blue-flowered vest with Mary Janes and white slacks, a layered tank and sandals.
The play’s third actor, Adam Workman, changes costumes 16 times and wears four different wigs and five different hats.
The operations manager for a family-owned food distributor, the Lawrence resident, who was last seen in The Belfry’s “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest,” portrays Amber Windchime, a new-age hippie girl with a heart of gold. He plays Arles Struvie, a guy marrying his dearest baby Bertha and who is always wearing his cowboy hat and boots. As Pearl Burres, he’s a sweet “little” old lady in her Sunday best. As Joe Bob Lipsey, he’s an extravagant and eccentric theater director. As Helen Bedd, he’s a divorced entrepreneur who owns the food booth and is getting ready for the big square dance. He’s also Leonard Childress, the gray-haired, western-suit-wearing mayor of Tuna, and the Rev. Sturgis Spikes, who can’t seem to stay on the right side of the law.
“The challenge of playing all of these characters is making them all distinct,” said Workman, who wants to make sure he’s not making the characters into a stereotype who is unbelievable.
He wanted to be involved in “Red, White & Tuna” Workman said, to explore new areas in his acting .”
For instance, his favorite costume is Pearl,” when she is all dressed up for the reunion. “It’s such an involved costume that I almost feel like an old lady when I put it on.”
For Belfry costumer Norma Floyd of Noblesville, having a cast of only two women and one man, sounded easy until she found out there were so many costume changes. And that they play multiple male and female roles. “Therein lie the problem,” she said.
Finding men’s shoes to fit the ladies was easy. But finding women’s shoes to fit a size 11 man was not easy to find, especially orthotic shoes when he played a “rather buxom” Aunt Pearl, Floyd said. But during the search, she did find a perfect pair of slip-on wedgies for his role of Amber Windchime, and a couple pair or ladies pantyhose. “My requirement for ladies onstage in dresses is always hosiery, no matter how hairy their legs may be,” she said. Western shirts, jackets, pants, bolo ties, cowboy boots and hats, plus some wigs, finished out his ensembles.
Weaver’s camouflage raincoat (which serves as a great coverup for several other costumes) and hat were graciously made by assistant costumer Shirley Sartin, with a gusset made by Floyd, who also constructed a baby bump for Weaver, as Charlene Bumiller.
The greatest challenge for Wilson’s costumes was finding a letter jacket, but a session at the computer and some magic from a hot iron and transfer paper worked the necessary illusion for her portrayal of Inita Goodwin.
“Doing the costumes for this bunch of characters was a challenge,” Floyd said. Getting them rigged for quick change was also a challenge.
“There are many more tales of searching and fitting and adapting clothing to represent the characters in this production,” she said. “It takes nearly everyone in the cast and crew to put together specific items….I really enjoyed gathering and adapting the various outfits for this performance. Costuming is fun.”

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