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Pasco's Show Palace Dinner Theatre adds more shows of comedy 'Red, White and Tuna'

Only a few weeks after they announced the 2010-11 season at Show Palace Dinner Theatre, owners Nick and Sal Sessa realized they needed to make a change.

As word spread that Matthew McGee and Candler Budd have been cast to do the two-man, 22-character show Red, White and Tuna, it became obvious that four weeks' worth of shows wouldn't be enough to accommodate all the people who want to see that hilarious comedy duo redo their thing.

After all, when McGee and Budd did the first in the Tuna series, Greater Tuna, at the Show Palace in September 2007, they packed the house for four weeks, never mind that September is, arguably, the toughest theater month of the year.

And they set record after record when they did another in the Tuna series, A Tuna Christmas, at American Stage in St. Petersburg for the past couple of years.

So the Sessas cut one week of the preceding show, Sweet Charity, and added one week to the original four weeks set aside for Red, White and Tuna.

Now Charity will play April 23 through June 10, and Tuna will play June 18 through July 18.

I've seen the two other shows about the mythical third-smallest town in Texas ("where the Lions Club is too liberal and Patsy Cline never dies") numerous times (and would go see them again), but Red, White and Tuna will be new to me.

Not to overstate it or anything — nor, for that matter, to understate the actual excitement in my life — but knowing I'll get to see Red, White and Tuna in just eight months gives me something to look forward to in life.

On another Show Palace front, the theater is bringing back comic Pat Cooper to do one show in Hudson on Feb. 1 (that's a Monday).

Cooper did his first show at the Show Palace in June 1997 and has been coming back to either that venue or the Sessas' other big venue, the Palace Grand, almost every year since then.

The Sessas usually start out booking the popular Italian comedian (his birth name is Pasquale Caputo) for one show and end up having to do another and sometimes another after that.

"He's become like family," Nick Sessa said of the showbiz legend. When he's in town, Cooper often can be spotted at local restaurants with some of the Sessa tribe. Over the years, he's become comfortable just hanging out at a Sessa home.

A couple of years ago, Cooper arranged ringside seats for Nick and his wife, Mirel, at New York's Friars Club when Cooper was honored with a rowdy and often risque roast at that famed spot.

The Sessas were surrounded by such people as Jerry Adler, The View's Joy Behar, Norm Crosby, Al Roker, boxer Michael Spinks, newsman Mike Wallace, Jerry Stiller, sports artist LeRoy Neiman, actor Danny Aiello and roastmaster Lisa Lampanelli, comedy's "Lovable Queen of Mean."

No one will be surprised if the Feb. 1 show sells out as quickly as the ones before it.

Welcome back, Charlie

Many people at Thursday's opening night of Run for Your Wife at Richey Suncoast Theatre were surprised and delighted to be greeted by Charlie Skelton, the board president who, along with his wife, Marie, is credited with much of the renaissance of that once-fading New Port Richey landmark.

Just four weeks ago, Charlie underwent serious emergency abdominal surgery in St. Petersburg, but is now on the mend, albeit 30 pounds lighter (not a recommended way to lose weight, by the way).

Doctors have ordered Charlie not to exert himself or lift anything heavier than 5 pounds for at least eight weeks, which is a tough order for someone who thrives on designing and building theatrical sets, climbing through the rafters to adjust lights, hauling set pieces down from the storage attic and generally doing whatever it takes to make a production work.

Charlie, under the watchful eye of Marie, was limiting himself to selling tickets and gingerly shaking hands with theater-goers. But everyone could tell he was just itching to get back to the work he loves most.

Pasco's Show Palace Dinner Theatre adds more shows of comedy 'Red, White and Tuna' 10/23/09 [Last modified: Friday, October 23, 2009 6:57pm]
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