T is for Ten-time Tony-winning Tommy Tune

Look at Tommy Tune mid-flight with top hat and cane, and he’s the quintessential song-and-dance man of his generation; he’s billed himself as Broadway’s tallest tapper. But among what’s improbable about Tommy Tune, starting with his name (yes, he was born Thomas James Tune) and his height (6’6 ½ ”) , are both his longevity and his versatility. Born in Texas, the son of an oil rig worker, Tune made his Broadway debut in 1965 as “one of the killers” (another one was Christopher Walken) in “Baker Street,” a musical about Sherlock Holmes, and won his first Tony Award as featured actor in the Michael Bennett/Cy Coleman musical “Seesaw,” for which he also served as associate choreographer. Over the course of his Broadway career, Tommy Tune won ten Tony Awards – two for acting, three for directing, four for choreography – and one lifetime achievement award. Any look at that career has to include some of the shows that he helmed.

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See-Saw, 1973

Suzanne Pleshette presents Tommy Tune with his first Tony.

The Best little Whorehouse in Texas, 1978

Credited as co-director (his first such gig on Braodway), Tune also staged the musical numbers, including this one performed at the Tony Awards show.

A Day in Hollywood/A Night In Ukraine, 1980

Tune was both director and choreographer of this musical. Here’s a number from the show performed at the Tonys, Doin’ the Production Code

Nine, 1982

The show’s performance at the Tony Awards, plus Tune’s acceptance of the Tony Award for best director

My One and Only, 1983

He not only starred in this musical with Twiggy. He staged and choreographed it, in collaboration with Thommie Walsh. He won two Tonys for the show (as best actor and choreographer), and was nominated for a third (as director)

Twiggy and Tommy Tune sing “S’Wonderful”

Sandy Duncan and Tommy Tune tap their way through “He Loves and She Loves” from “My One and Only”. This was part of a regional TV special, “Stars of Texas” –

“Puttin’ On The Ritz,” 1988

Performing at Irving Berlin’s 100th Birthday Celebration, Carnegie Hall

Grand Hotel, 1990

Tune won Tony Awards as both director and choreographer

Bye Bye Birdie, National Tour 1991

Tune and Ann Reinking perform “Rosie”

The Will Rogers Follies, 1991

The performance at the Tony Awards of this show that won for Tune yet another pair of Tonys – for director and choreographer.

Doctor Doolittle, National Tour 2005

Tommy Tune performs “Talk to the Animals” at the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.

Lady Be Good, 2015 Encores concert

Tune performs at age 76

The Boyfriend, 1971 movie

With Twiggy

Tommy Tune dances down the same street in Garrison, NY in 2018, as he did 50 years earlier for the Yonkers scene for the film version of “Hello, Dolly!”.

The Tommy Tune Awards, presented annually by Theatre Under The Stars (TUTS) honor excellence in high school musical theatre in Houston.

Author: New York Theater

Jonathan Mandell is a 3rd generation NYC journalist, who sees shows, reads plays, writes reviews and sometimes talks with people.

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