Tune's tale isn't same old song, dance

| Tuesday, Sept. 27, 2011

Tommy Tune could have marked the 50th anniversary of his show business career by taking a well-deserved vacation or writing a book.

Instead, the nine-time Tony Award-winner and internationally acclaimed singer, dancer, director and choreographer celebrated the milestone by creating a new stage show and taking it on the road. With 300 performances scheduled into 2012, including one at the Palace Theatre on Friday, Tune says his golden anniversary year will be more like his "golden decade."

Tune's musical memoir, "Steps in Time: A Broadway Biography in Song and Dance," featuring the Manhattan Rhythm Kings, focuses on the people and places that influenced him as he made his way to the top on the stage and screen.

"It's been 50 years since I got my Equity card as a professional performer," he says. "I thought I should honor that. It's a passage." He has directed and choreographed four different stage shows, which he has performed with symphony orchestras all over the world.

"It was time for a new act," he says. "There's a story here. I thought it might interest people."

And it turns out he was correct. Tune says his new show has been more successful than all of his other acts.

"People want to know how you got to where you are," he says. "I have stories about all the incredible people who inspired me. Directors, composers, performers: I've run the gamut. The hardest part of putting this show together was deciding what to leave out."

The son of a Wichita Falls, Texas, restaurateur, Tune says his dream was to be a member of the chorus of a Broadway show. He realized that dream early by winning jobs in New York as a dancer in "Baker Street," "A Joyful Noise" and "How Now Dow Jones."

Other "firsts" included earning his first Tony Award for best featured actor in a musical for his principal role in the Broadway musical, "Seesaw," and achieving his first credits as a Broadway director and choreographer for the original production of "The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas."

He went on to win nine Tonys -- four for best choreography, three for best direction of a musical and one each for best actor and best featured actor in a musical -- as well as eight Drama Desk Awards, three Astaire Awards and the Society of Directors and Choreographers' George Abbott Award for Lifetime Achievement.

He also logged 900 performances since 1999 as the star of EFX at the MGM Grand Hotel in Las Vegas.

Besides his concert tour, Tune's two latest projects include a new musical about the former New York City hot spot disco, Studio 54, that is in the works, and a show he is directing, "Bonsoir Liliane!" at Teatro ZinZanni, Seattle, based on the life of musical theater legend Liliane Montevecchi.

One of his greatest personal achievements was being honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. He says after getting the award, he took a walk from his hotel one night to visit his section of the sidewalk. A former student at the University of Texas at Austin and the University of Houston, Tune says he was happy to notice his star was placed between director John Huston and former silent screen actress and singer Mary Louise "Texas" Guinan.

"Huston• Texas• And it was located directly in front of a Capezio store that sells dance shoes," he says, adding, "It feels like home to me."

His Greensburg performance, presented by Westmoreland Cultural Trust, commemorates the 85th anniversary of the historic Palace Theatre, which opened in 1926 as the Manos Theatre.

Additional Information:

Tommy Tune

With: Manhattan Rhythm Kings

When: 8 p.m. Friday

Admission: $29-$54; $125 Gold Circle ticket includes a post-show reception with Tommy Tune to commemorate the Palace Theatre's 85th anniversary.

Where: Palace Theatre, Greensburg

Details: 724-836-8000 or www.thepalacetheatre.org

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