Tommy Tune

Last updated

Tommy Tune
Tommy Tune 1977.JPG
Tune in 1977
Born
Thomas James Tune

(1939-02-28) February 28, 1939 (age 82)
Education Lon Morris College
University of Texas, Austin (BFA)
University of Houston (MFA)
OccupationActor, choreographer, dancer, singer, theatre director, producer
Years active1965–present
Website http://www.tommytune.com/

Thomas James Tune [1] (born February 28, 1939 [2] ) is an American actor, dancer, singer, theatre director, producer, and choreographer. Over the course of his career, he has won ten Tony Awards, the National Medal of Arts and has his own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Contents

Early life

Tune was born in Wichita Falls, Texas, to oil rig worker, horse trainer, and restaurateur Jim Tune and Eva Mae Clark along with his sister, Gracey. He attended Mirabeau B. Lamar High School, Houston and the Methodist-affiliated Lon Morris College in Jacksonville, Texas. He studied dance under Patsy Swayze in Houston. [3] He also studied dance with Kit Andree in Boulder, Colorado. He went on to earn his Bachelor of Fine Arts in Drama from the University of Texas at Austin in 1962 and his Master of Fine Arts in Directing from the University of Houston. Tune later moved to New York to start his career. [4]

Career

Tune stands a lanky 6'6½" tall, and at first he found his height to be a disadvantage when auditioning for roles, as he would tower over potential co-stars. He wore horizontally-striped shirts to auditions, dipped extra low when he did pliés and learned to dance upstage ("I'd look shorter that way. It's a law of perspective") to try to overcome it. [5]

In 1965, Tune made his Broadway debut as a performer in the musical Baker Street . His first Broadway directing and choreography credits were for the original production of The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas in 1978. His direction of Nine The Musical in 1982, which also won the Tony for Best Musical, garnered him his first Tony for direction of a musical. He has gone on to direct and/or choreograph eight Broadway musicals. He directed a new musical titled Turn of the Century, which premiered at the Goodman Theatre in Chicago on September 19, 2008 and closed on November 2, 2008. [6]

Off-Broadway, Tune has directed The Club and Cloud Nine . Tune toured the United States in the Sherman Brothers musical Busker Alley in 1994–1995, and in the stage adaptation of the film Dr. Dolittle in 2006. [7] [8]

Tune is the only person to win Tony Awards in the same categories (Best Choreography and Best Direction of a Musical) in consecutive years (1990 and 1991), and the first to win in four categories. He has won ten Tony Awards, including a Lifetime Achievement Award in 2015.

On television, Tune was a recurring guest star and assistant choreographer from 1969 to 1970 on The Dean Martin Show and its summer replacement series, Dean Martin Presents The Golddiggers . He also briefly appeared on Mister Rogers' Neighborhood in 1988. [9] [10]

Tune appeared in a 1975 TV special titled Welcome to the "World" along with Lucie Arnaz and Lyle Waggoner to promote the opening of Space Mountain at Walt Disney World. His film credits include Ambrose Kemper in Hello, Dolly! (1969), directed by Gene Kelly and starring Barbra Streisand, The Boy Friend with Twiggy (1971), and Mimì Bluette... fiore del mio giardino (1976) with Shelley Winters and Monica Vitti. Tune released his first record album, Slow Dancin', in 1997 on the RCA label featuring a collection of his favorite romantic ballads. In 1999, he made his Las Vegas debut as the star of EFX at the MGM Grand Las Vegas. [11]

Tune staged an elaborate musical entitled Paparazzi for the Holland America Line cruise ship the Oosterdam in 2003. [12] He works often with The Manhattan Rhythm Kings, for example touring in a Big Band revue entitled Song and Dance Man and White Tie and Tails (2002). [13]

Tune performed in his musical revue, Steps in Time: A Broadway Biography in Song and Dance, in Boston in April 2008 and continuing in various venues from Bethesda, Maryland in January 2009 to California in February 2009. [14] [15] [16]

The Tommy Tune Awards, presented annually by Theatre Under The Stars (TUTS) honor excellence in high school musical theatre in Houston. The current home of the Tommy Tune Awards is the Hobby Center for the Performing Arts in Houston, Texas. [17]

Tune appeared as Argyle Austero in the revived fourth and fifth seasons of Arrested Development on Netflix. In 2015, he made a return to the New York stage as a featured performer in City Center's staged concert Encores!. He was featured in two numbers in Lady, Be Good! ; his first act number was the Gershwin standard "Fascinatin' Rhythm." [18]

Personal life

Before leaving Texas in the 1960s for a Broadway career in New York, Tune worked with Mary Highsmith (mother of novelist Patricia Highsmith) at the Point Summer Theatre. In a letter to her daughter, Highsmith referred to Tune as her "adopted boy" whom she called "Romano". Tune later praised Highsmith for helping him develop his talents: "She was an opening for me; she opened a little bit of my tight fabric so that I might peer through." [19] When not performing, he used to run an art gallery in Tribeca that featured his own work. As of 2014 it is no longer open. [20] [21]

In 1997, Tune's memoir, Footnotes, was published. In it, he wrote about what drives him as a performer, choreographer, and director and reminisced about his days with Twiggy in My One and Only ; as well as meeting and working with his many idols. He further wrote about being openly gay in the world of theater; about losing his partner, choreographer David Steiger Wolfe, to AIDS in 1994, and about the unhappy ending of his relationship with A Chorus Line actor Michel Stuart. [22] He also described a woman whom he did not name but who he said was the "love of [his] life", and some media speculated that the description he gave appeared to fit Twiggy. [23]

Broadway productions

Awards and nominations

YearAwardCategoryWorkResult
1974 Tony Award Best Performance by a Featured Actor in a Musical Seesaw Won
1977 Drama Desk Award Outstanding Director of a Musical The ClubNominated
1978 The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas Won
Outstanding Choreography Nominated
1979 Tony Award Best Direction of a Musical Nominated
Best Choreography Nominated
1980 Best Direction of a Musical A Day in Hollywood / A Night in the Ukraine Nominated
Best Choreography Won
Drama Desk Award Outstanding Choreography Won
Outer Critics Circle Award Outstanding DirectorWon
Outstanding ChoreographyWon
1982 Tony Award Best Direction of a Musical Nine Won
Best Choreography Nominated
Drama Desk Award Outstanding Director of a Musical Won
Outstanding Director of a Play Cloud 9 Won
1983 Tony Award Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Musical My One and Only Won
Best Direction of a Musical Nominated
Best Choreography Won
Drama Desk Award Outstanding Choreography Won
1990 Tony Award Best Direction of a Musical Grand Hotel Won
Best Choreography Won
Drama Desk Award Outstanding Director of a Musical Won
Outstanding Choreography Won
Outer Critics Circle Award Outstanding DirectorNominated
1991 Tony Award Best Direction of a Musical The Will Rogers Follies Won
Best Choreography Won
Drama Desk Award Outstanding Choreography Won
1992 Outer Critics Circle Award Outstanding ChoreographyNominated
2003 Drama Desk Award Outstanding Choreography Tommy Tune: White Tie and TailsNominated
2015 Tony Award Lifetime Achievement Award Won

Other Recognition

Related Research Articles

Susan Stroman

Susan P. Stroman is an American theatre director, choreographer, film director and performer. Her notable theater productions include The Producers, Crazy for You, Contact, and The Scottsboro Boys. She is a five-time Tony Award winner, four for Best Choreography and one as Best Director of a Musical for The Producers. In addition, she is a recipient of two Laurence Olivier Awards, five Drama Desk Awards, eight Outer Critics Circle Awards, two Lucille Lortel Awards, and the George Abbott Award for Lifetime Achievement in the American Theater. She is a 2014 inductee in the American Theater Hall of Fame in New York City.

Jerry Mitchell is an American theatre director and choreographer.

<i>The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas</i>

The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas is a musical with a book by Texas author Larry L. King and Peter Masterson and music and lyrics by Carol Hall. It is based on a story by King that was inspired by the real-life Chicken Ranch in La Grange, Texas.

Thomas Joseph "Thommie" Walsh III was an American dancer, choreographer, director, and author.

Graciela Daniele is an Argentine-American dancer, choreographer, and theatre director.

Rob Ashford American stage director and choreographer

Rob Ashford is an American stage director and choreographer. He is a Tony Award, Olivier Award, Emmy Award, Drama Desk Award, and Outer Critics Circle Award winner.

Donald Edward Saddler was an American choreographer, dancer, and theatre director.

Jeff Calhoun is an American director, choreographer, producer and dancer.

Scott Wise is an American theatre actor and dancer. He is known for his performances in the 1989 musical Jerome Robbins' Broadway, which earned him a Tony Award, and in the 2002 film Chicago.

Hunter Houston Bell is an American writer and theatre actor.

Andy Blankenbuehler is an American dancer, choreographer and director primarily for stage and concerts. He has been nominated for the Tony Award for Best Choreography five times, and has won three times: for In the Heights (2008), Hamilton (2016), and Bandstand (2017). Blankenbuehler's other Broadway choreography work includes 9 to 5, Bring it On: The Musical, and the 2016 Cats revival. Blankenbuehler was awarded the Kennedy Center Honor in 2018 for his work on Hamilton. He also choreographed the movie adaptation of Cats.

Casey Nicholaw is an American theatre director, choreographer and performer. He has been nominated for Tony Awards for directing and choreographing The Drowsy Chaperone (2006), The Book of Mormon (2011), Something Rotten! (2015), and Mean Girls (2018), for directing The Prom (2019), and for choreographing Monty Python's Spamalot (2005) and Aladdin (2014), winning for his co-direction of The Book of Mormon with Trey Parker. He also was nominated for the Drama Desk Awards for Outstanding Direction and Choreography for The Drowsy Chaperone (2006) and Something Rotten! (2015) and for Outstanding Choreography for Spamalot (2005).

Christopher Gattelli is an American choreographer, performer and theatre director.

Sergio Trujillo is a dancer and stage choreographer. Born in Colombia, raised in Canada and an American citizen who lives in New York City. Trujillo was the recipient of the 2015 Laurence Olivier Award for Best Theatre Choreographer for Memphis and the 2019 Tony Award for Best Choreography for Ain't Too Proud.

Dan Knechtges is a director and choreographer, for musicals, opera, television, film and music videos. He is Artistic Director of Theatre Under the Stars in Houston, Texas.

Jeffry Denman is an American actor, director, choreographer and author.

Tony Stevens, born Anthony Pusateri, was an American choreographer, dancer, and director who worked with, danced with, and directed many of Broadway and Hollywood's theatre-centric actors and actresses, including Chita Rivera, Martin Short, Robert Redford, and Gene Kelly.

David Warren Gibson was born in Royal Oak, Michigan, the son of Sonja Würfel, a ballerina from Leipzig, Germany, and Samuel Warren Gibson, an American diplomat for the U.S. Embassy in Berlin and the Hague. He has one brother. His family moved to Minneapolis, Minnesota when he was 3 years old. David attended Westwood Jr. High School and studied art at the Minneapolis Art Institute. He had his first solo show of paintings when he was 13 at the Theater in the Round. At the same time, he worked with the Eleanor Moore Agency as a model for print ads. His family then moved to Dallas, Texas, where he attended Richardson High School. David acted in school plays and continued painting. He also studied dance in the evenings at S.M.U. After graduating from High School, his family moved to Houston, Texas, where David attended the University of St. Thomas and the University of Houston. He was also signed with a local male modeling agency doing print ads and runway work for fashion shows. The Wilhelmina Modeling Agency invited him to come to N.Y. to sign with them. David took the opportunity and moved to N.Y. where he studied acting with Susan Batson from the Actors Studio, and attended the Parsons School of Design.

Chita Rivera Awards for Dance and Choreography

The Chita Rivera Awards for Dance and Choreography celebrate outstanding dance and choreography in theatre, both on Broadway and Off-Broadway and in film at an annual ceremony in New York City at the Skirball Center for the Performing Arts. Now carrying the namesake of two-time Tony-winning dance icon Chita Rivera, The Rivera Awards will be presented under the auspices of American Dance Machine, an organization dedicated to the preservation of great musical-theater choreography.

Parker Esse is an American choreographer. Esse began training at 9-years old at the Houston Ballet. After being cast in Fosse on Broadway in 2000, he proceeded to work on dozens of productions in prestigious regional theatres across the United States. In Washington, D.C. he worked as the assistant choreographer in the musical Mame and Babes in Arms. He also choreographed Smokey Joe's Cafe, The Music Man, Carousel and Fiddler on the Roof. In New York directed and choreographed The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas. He was the associate director and choreographer for Lucky Guy at Goodspeed Theatre.

References

  1. Matthew Blank (February 3, 2015). "CUE & A: Song and Dance Legend Tommy Tune on Carol Channing, Kissing Twiggy and His Love of Pro Wrestling". Playbill. Retrieved February 3, 2015.
  2. http://memory.loc.gov/diglib/ihas/loc.music.tdabio.180/default.html
  3. Kelly, Devin (September 18, 2013). "Patsy Swayze, mother of Patrick Swayze, dies at 86". Los Angeles Times . Retrieved October 6, 2013.
  4. Kim Summers (2008). "Tommy Tune Biography". All Music Guide. Retrieved January 22, 2008.
  5. "Tommy Tune". People. Retrieved June 26, 2019.
  6. Jones, Kenneth (November 2, 2008). "Tune, Elice and Brickman's Turn of the Century Ends in Chicago, Aims for a Future". Playbill. Archived from the original on January 7, 2009. Retrieved January 22, 2008.
  7. Elyse Sommer (December 1, 2007). "Busker Alley: From One Night Benefit to Gala CD Launch. . .and On to Broadway". Curtain Up. Retrieved January 22, 2008.
  8. "Dr. Dolittle Closes His Practice on the Road". Playbill. August 3, 2006. Archived from the original on September 6, 2012. Retrieved January 22, 2008.
  9. "Mister Rogers' Neighborhood (TV Series) 1594: Kindness and Unkindness (1988)". IMDb. Retrieved October 28, 2017.
  10. "Mister Rogers' Neighborhood (TV Series) 1595: Kindness and Unkindness (1988)". IMDb. Retrieved October 28, 2017.
  11. talkinbroadway review, undated ca. 1999
  12. listing for Holland America [ permanent dead link ]
  13. Elyse Sommer (December 19, 2002). "A CurtainUp Review Tommy Tune: White Tie and Tails". curtainup. Retrieved June 7, 2008.
  14. Jane Hurwitz (January 21, 2009). "For ' Steps in Time, Tommy Tune Taps into a Long, Tall Career". The Washington Post. Retrieved January 22, 2008.
  15. Adam Hetrick (January 6, 2009). "Tommy Tune to Perform Steps in Time in Stamford in February". Playbill. Archived from the original on January 31, 2013. Retrieved January 22, 2008.
  16. Jan Nargi (April 14, 2008). "Tommy Tune: Steps in Time". BroadwayWorld. Retrieved June 7, 2008.
  17. "Tommy Tune Awards". Theatre Under The Stars. 2008. Retrieved January 22, 2008.
  18. Isherwood, Charles. "Madcap Stratagems of Songful Siblings" The New York Times, February 5, 2015
  19. Schenkar, Joan. The Talented Miss Highsmith: The Secret Life and Serious Art of Patricia Highsmith. St. Martin's Press (2009); ISBN   978-0-312-30375-4, pp. 61-63
  20. Andrew Gans (December 18, 2007). "Tommy Tune Launches On-Line Art Gallery". Playbill. Archived from the original on December 4, 2008. Retrieved June 7, 2008.
  21. Tommy Tune (1997). "A Broadway Tune: A Halloween Visit with Tommy Tune". glbtq Encyclopedia (transcript). Interviewed by Owen Keehnen. Archived from the original on August 14, 2007. Retrieved January 22, 2008.
  22. Tune, Tommy (1997). Footnotes: A Memoir . New York: Simon & Schuster. ISBN   0-684-84182-7.
  23. "Tommy Tune Gets Back on His Feet With Book, CD and Stage Musical". Playbill. October 22, 1997. Retrieved July 9, 2019.
  24. "Golden Plate Awardees of the American Academy of Achievement". www.achievement.org. American Academy of Achievement.
  25. "Tommy Tune inducted into Hall of Fame". The Post-Star.