Jaston Williams is known as one of Texas’ best character actors. He loses himself in a role with accent and body language among other techniques but he has this innate ability to pick up on nuances of a person’s character and by implementing them effortlessly the audience looses themselves as well. A case in point is “Tru” which ran at the Zach Scott Theatre in Austin. Although the character himself is silly and irreverent, playing Capote is a serious thing. After fistfuls of rave reviews for the one man show it is clear that Jaston has chops. Over 30 years of experience will do that to you.
Many folks have heard of Greater Tuna, A Tuna Christmas and Red, White and Tuna. Jaston Williams and his working partner of 30 years Joe Sears wrote Greater Tuna together and had a short small run in Austin, Texas in 1981 with a small tour that included Houston. There were packed houses everywhere they went and much to their surprise they ended up off Broadway at the Circle in the Square Theatre for over a year. In 1985, Greater Tuna was the most produced play in the United States with schools, community playhouses, professional theatres, and colleges all adding the comedy to their repertoire.
The popularity of Greater Tuna has even extended to the most distinguished home in the country, with Command Performances at the White House upon the invitation of President and Mrs. Bush in 1990 and again in 1991.
In December of 1994, A Tuna Christmas took Broadway by storm, playing to rave reviews and turning the toughest critics into "Tuna" fans. In return they presented Joe Sears with the esteemed honor of a Tony Award nomination for Best Actor in a Play.
DISH sat down with Jaston recently to talk about “Tuna” and his latest production that is debuting in Galveston at The Grand 1894 Opera House. The new show is called “Blame it on Valentine, Texas” so William’s clearly is sticking to what he knows, big personalities in small town Texas.
“Valentine” is a one person show about how Jaston became Jaston. Stories like being the only boy in a ballet class in the panhandle of Texas at 5 years old, accidentally ruining the show but stealing it at the same time. Or the time his father saw the Beetles on the Ed Sullivan show which sent him into an emotional breakdownto the point that he was unable to speak so he started making “Cowboy” noises instead. Stories like not having a tornado shelter at their home growing up but a lot of their neighbors having them and his mother insisting they drive all of the way across town during an actual tornado because she didn’t want to offend someone who had invited them over to hunker down.
“After all, they had already “hunkered” at everyone else’s shelter and if they didn’t go to this one the family would have their feelings hurt!”
His raucous retelling of the story over the phone about trying to get his blind mother to stop driving had this interviewer in stitches so in the context of the show one can only imagine how much funnier this whole story can be! The town police have given up on giving her tickets and she still drives!!
Enjoy the trip down memory lane laughing all of the way with Jaston through Valentine, Texas by clicking here for tickets.