There has never been anyone on The Great White Way quite as distinctive looking as Tommy Tune. At 6’6, the lean Mr. Tune has cast an imposing shadow on his many dancing partners, which have included the likes of Twiggy, Sandy Duncan, Carol Channing, Barbara Streisand and even Zero Mostel. Old age has not silenced the singing voice or the tap shoes of the ten time Tony winner and star of many Broadway productions; in fact he is currently on tour and headed for Portland.
On Sunday, February 14 Tommy Tune will bring his show Taps, Tunes and Tall Tales to the Winningstad Theatre at the Portland’5 for two shows. The one man cabaret style show will include singing, dancing and storytelling. The show consists of a brightly clad Mr. Tune, interlacing the story of his life and professional career with the show tunes that he helped to make famous.
Fame must have been in the cards for the dancer. Although Tommy Tune sounds like a stage name, it is in fact his real name. The son of a Texas oil rig worker in Wichita, Texas, Mr. Tune was bitten by the dancing bug at a young age and went to Houston to studied dancing with Patsy Swayze (Patrick’s mom). He eventually earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the University of Texas in Austin, before heading to Broadway.
Unlike so many of his contemporaries, Mr. Tune did not struggle when he went to New York after graduation. He simply went to Broadway and got hired on his very first audition. He was in Baker Street, which was loosely based on the Sherlock Holmes stories. After performing in several shows he went on to direct and choreograph The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas.
Mr. Tune is probably best known for the show, My One And Only which he directed, starred in and choreographed. The musical, which tells the story of a romance between an ambitious pilot and an English Channel swimmer, paired him with Twiggy for the first time. The two performers had famously good chemistry together and the show won three Tony Awards and three Drama Desk Awards. My One and Only featured music by George and Ira Gershwin and was a part of a movement to revive classic musicals on Broadway.
After his success with My One and Only, Mr. Tune went on to win two Tony’s for directing and choreographing Grand Hotel in 1990 and The Will Rogers Follies in 1991. He is also a recipient of the National Medal of Arts, which is the highest award bestowed upon artists by the United States government. After winning so many awards the prolific dancer finally got an award named after him. The Tommy Tune award is given out for excellence in high school theater in Texas.
In addition to his enormous talent he also has a great publicist. Even people who have never seen a Broadway show have heard of Mr. Tune. Although he was predominately a Broadway star, he appeared in several movies and television specials. He has his own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
At seventy six, Mr. Tune still sports an impressively full head of hair and a slim physique. Although many dancers suffer from arthritis when they get older, Mr. Tune still carries himself with a dancers gait and his show includes plenty of tap dancing.
Reviews of the performance have been very favorable. With the New Yorker saying it was irresistible and joyous.
Entertainment Weekly said, ““Tune takes vibrant charge the second he struts on stage.”
Mr. Tune goes onstage at 3:00 p.m. and at 7:00 p.m on the 14th. Tickets to the show are $50.00 to $95.00.
Eliza Gale – PortlandMetroLive.com Contributor
Eliza Gale began her blogging career interviewing aspiring actors and industry professionals on a Los Angeles based website called Curvewire. She started www.elizagalesintervviews in 2012 and has interviewed over three hundred people about their jobs and businesses since then. She has contributed many interviews to 360drinks.com, which is a Portland based happy-hour website. She also writes for Examiner.com and AXS.com.