Tommy Tune

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

Tommy Tune
Tommy Tune 1977
Tune in 1977.
Thomas James Tune

February 28, 1939 (age 80)
EducationLon Morris College
University of Texas, Austin (BFA)
University of Houston (MFA)
OccupationActor, choreographer, dancer, singer, theatre director, producer
Years active1965–present

Early life

Tune was born in Wichita Falls, Texas, to oil rig worker, horse trainer, and restaurateur Jim Tune and Eva Mae Clark. He attended Lamar High School in Houston and the Methodist-affiliated Lon Morris College in Jacksonville, Texas. He studied dance under Patsy Swayze in Houston.[2] 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.[3]


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.[4]

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.[5][6]

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 1969–70 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.[7][8]

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.

Tune's film credits include Ambrose in Hello, Dolly! (1969), and The Boy Friend with Twiggy (1971). 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.[9]

Tune staged an elaborate musical entitled Paparazzi for the Holland America Line cruise ship the Oosterdam in 2003.[10] 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).[11]

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.[12][13][14]

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.[15]

He appeared as Argyle Austero in the revived fourth and fifth season's 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."[16]

Personal life

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.[17][18] In Tune's 1997 memoir Footnotes, he writes about what drives him as a performer, choreographer, and director; offers stories about being openly gay in the world of theatre; his partners David Wolfe and Michel Stuart; his days with Twiggy in My One and Only; and meeting and working with his many idols.[19]

Before leaving Texas in the 1960s for a Broadway career in New York, Tune worked with Mary Highsmith, mother of crime 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."[20]

Broadway productions

Awards and nominations

Year Award Category Work Result
1974 Tony Award Best Performance by a Featured Actor in a Musical Seesaw Won
1977 Drama Desk Award Outstanding Director of a Musical The Club Nominated
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 Director Won
Outstanding Choreography Won
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 Director Nominated
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 Choreography Nominated
2003 Drama Desk Award Outstanding Choreography Tommy Tune: White Tie and Tails Nominated
2015 Tony Award Lifetime Achievement Award Won


  1. ^ Matthew Blank (3 February 2015). "CUE & A: Song and Dance Legend Tommy Tune on Carol Channing, Kissing Twiggy and His Love of Pro Wrestling". Playbill. Retrieved 2015-02-03.
  2. ^ Kelly, Devin (2013-09-18). "Patsy Swayze, mother of Patrick Swayze, dies at 86". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2013-10-06.
  3. ^ Kim Summers (2008). "Tommy Tune Biography". All Music Guide. Retrieved 2008-01-22.
  4. ^ Jones, Kenneth (2 November 2008). "Tune, Elice and Brickman's Turn of the Century Ends in Chicago, Aims for a Future". Playbill. Archived from the original on 7 January 2009. Retrieved 2008-01-22.
  5. ^ Elyse Sommer (1 December 2007). "Busker Alley: From One Night Benefit to Gala CD Launch. . .and On to Broadway". Curtain Up. Retrieved 2008-01-22.
  6. ^ "Dr. Dolittle Closes His Practice on the Road". Playbill. 3 August 2006. Archived from the original on 6 September 2012. Retrieved 2008-01-22.
  7. ^ "Mister Rogers' Neighborhood (TV Series) 1594: Kindness and Unkindness (1988)". Retrieved 2017-10-28.
  8. ^ "Mister Rogers' Neighborhood (TV Series) 1595: Kindness and Unkindness (1988)". Retrieved 2017-10-28.
  9. ^ talkinbroadway review, undated ca. 1999
  10. ^ listing for Holland America
  11. ^ Elyse Sommer (19 December 2002). "A CurtainUp Review Tommy Tune: White Tie and Tails". curtainup. Retrieved 2008-06-07.
  12. ^ Jane Hurwitz (January 21, 2009). "For ' Steps in Time, Tommy Tune Taps Into a Long, Tall Career". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2008-01-22.
  13. ^ 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 2008-01-22.
  14. ^ Jan Nargi (14 April 2008). "Tommy Tune: Steps in Time". BroadwayWorld. Retrieved 2008-06-07.
  15. ^ "Tommy Tune Awards". Theatre Under The Stars. 2008. Retrieved 2008-01-22.
  16. ^ Isherwood, Charles. "Madcap Stratagems of Songful Siblings" The New York Times, February 5, 2015
  17. ^ Andrew Gans (18 December 2007). "Tommy Tune Launches On-Line Art Gallery". Playbill. Archived from the original on 4 December 2008. Retrieved 2008-06-07.
  18. ^ Tommy Tune (1997). "A Broadway Tune: A Halloween Visit with Tommy Tune". glbtq Encyclopedia (transcript). Interviewed by Owen Keehnen. Archived from the original on 2007-08-14. Retrieved 2008-01-22.
  19. ^ Tune, Tommy (1997). Footnotes: A Memoir. New York: Simon & Schuster. ISBN 0-684-84182-7.
  20. ^ 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 - page 61-63

External links

37th Tony Awards

The 37th Annual Tony Awards was held at the Gershwin Theatre on June 5, 1983, and broadcast by CBS television. Hosts were Richard Burton, Lena Horne, and Jack Lemmon.

45th Tony Awards

The 45th Annual Tony Awards was broadcast by CBS from the Minskoff Theatre on June 2, 1991. The hosts were Julie Andrews and Jeremy Irons.

A Day in Hollywood / A Night in the Ukraine

A Day in Hollywood/A Night in the Ukraine is a musical comedy consisting of two essentially independent one-act plays, with a book and lyrics by Dick Vosburgh and music by Frank Lazarus. Additionally, songs by other composers are incorporated into the score. The musical premiered in the West End and then ran on Broadway.

Busker Alley

Busker Alley is a musical with music and lyrics by the Sherman Brothers and a book by AJ Carothers, based on the 1938 British film, St. Martin's Lane, which was inspired by the 1905 novel, Small Town Tyrant, by Heinrich Mann.

In the 1995 touring production, Tommy Tune played the lead character, "Charlie Baxter", a busker in love with another busker, who leaves Charlie to follow her dream of becoming a star. The musical toured the US in 1995 but did not open on Broadway.

Carver High School (Houston, Texas)

George Washington Carver High School for Applied Technology, Engineering and the Arts is a public secondary school in Houston, Texas, United States. The school is located in the historically African American community of Acres Homes and serves grades 9 through 12. It is named for African-American scientist and educator George Washington Carver. Carver is a magnet school and is a part of the Aldine Independent School District.

Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Choreography

The Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Choreography is an annual award presented by Drama Desk in recognition of achievements in the theatre among Broadway, Off Broadway and Off-Off Broadway productions.

† - indicates the performance also won the Tony Award

‡ - indicates the performance was nominated but did not win the Tony Award

Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Director of a Musical

The Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Director of a Musical is an annual award presented by Drama Desk in recognition of achievements in the theatre among Broadway, Off Broadway and Off-Off Broadway productions. The awards were established in 1955, with the Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Director being presented to directors of both plays and musicals. The new award categories were later created in the 1975 ceremony.

† - indicates the performance won the Tony Award

‡ - indicates the performance was also nominated for the Tony Award

Grand Hotel (musical)

Grand Hotel is a musical with a book by Luther Davis and music and lyrics by Robert Wright and George Forrest, with additional music and lyrics by Maury Yeston.

Based on the 1929 Vicki Baum novel and play, Menschen im Hotel (People in a Hotel), and the subsequent 1932 MGM feature film, the musical focuses on events taking place over the course of a weekend in an elegant hotel in 1928 Berlin and the intersecting stories of the eccentric guests of the hotel, including a fading prima ballerina; a fatally ill Jewish bookkeeper, who wants to spend his final days living in luxury; a young, handsome, but destitute Baron; a cynical doctor; an honest businessman gone bad, and a typist dreaming of Hollywood success.

The show's 1989 Broadway production garnered 12 Tony Award nominations, winning five, including best direction and choreography for Tommy Tune. Big-name cast replacements, including Cyd Charisse and Zina Bethune, helped the show become the first American musical since 1985's Big River to top 1,000 performances on Broadway.

Hello, Dolly! (film)

Hello, Dolly! is a 1969 American romantic comedy musical film based on the Broadway production of the same name. Directed by Gene Kelly and adapted and produced by Ernest Lehman, the cast includes Barbra Streisand, Walter Matthau, Michael Crawford, Danny Lockin, Tommy Tune, Fritz Feld, Marianne McAndrew, E. J. Peaker and Louis Armstrong (whose recording of the title tune had become a number-one single in May 1964). The film follows the story of Dolly Levi (a strong-willed matchmaker), as she travels to Yonkers, New York, to find a match for the miserly "well-known unmarried half-a-millionaire" Horace Vandergelder. In doing so she convinces his niece, his niece's intended, and Horace's two clerks to travel to New York City.

The film won three Oscars for Best Art Direction, Best Score of a Musical Picture, and Best Sound and was nominated for a further four Academy Awards, including Best Picture. Although the film eventually broke even, it was not a commercial success.

Jeff Calhoun (choreographer)

Jeff Calhoun (born 1960) is an American director, choreographer, producer and dancer.

As a student at Richland High School, now Pine-Richland High School (Gibsonia, PA; North of Pittsburgh), Calhoun was interested in both athletics and performance, playing football and studying tap dance. He danced in the ensemble at The Kenley Players in Ohio in the late 1970s where he met Tommy Tune. Tune later hired Calhoun to perform in the First National Tour of The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas. Calhoun made his Broadway debut in the stage adaptation of Seven Brides for Seven Brothers (1982). He also starred opposite Twiggy in My One and Only (1983). Calhoun’s collaboration with Tommy Tune resulted in the 1991 Tony Award for Best Choreography for The Will Rogers Follies. His Broadway directing debut was Tommy Tune Tonight! (1992).

Calhoun began his association with Deaf West Theatre in 2000 when he directed and choreographed a world premiere adaptation of Oliver!. Calhoun continued his work with Deaf West Theater with Big River the following season. Big River subsequently played Roundabout Theatre Company’s America Airlines Theatre in 2003 on Broadway and garnered the 2004 Tony Award for Excellence in Theater. Calhoun also directed the world premiere of the first original American Sign Language musical, Sleeping Beauty Wakes, at the Kirk Douglas Theater in 2007. In 2009, he directed and choreographed the Deaf West Theatre & Center Theater Group production of Pippin at the Mark Taper Forum, which included new and revised material from composer Stephen Schwartz.

Calhoun directed both the world premiere and international productions of Disney’s High School Musical: On Stage and Disney’s High School Musical 2: On Stage. He also provided choreography for Xena: Warrior Princess (The Bitter Suite), Downtown, Happy Together and Weekend Warriors.

Calhoun's additional Broadway credits include the first Broadway revival of Grease (1994), Annie Get Your Gun (1999), Bells Are Ringing (2001), Brooklyn The Musical (2004), and Grey Gardens (2006). Off-Broadway he appeared in One More Song/One More Dance (1983) with Ann Reinking, choreographed Bouncers (1987) and Comic Potential (2000), and directed Holy Cross Sucks! (2005). His regional theater credits include the First National Tour of Irving Berlin’s White Christmas presented by Theater of the Stars (2008), Shenandoah at the Ford’s Theater (2006) and Himself and Nora, a musical based on James Joyce and Nora Barnacle, which he choreographed and co-directed (with Joseph Hardy) for the Old Globe Theatre in 2005.

Calhoun is an Associate Artist at Ford’s Theater, Washington, DC where he directed both the 2008 Presidential Gala presentation of Frank Wildhorn’s The Civil War, and a new production of that same work as part of the Ford’s Theater 2009 reopening season.Calhoun recently directed and choreographed the Broadway musical Bonnie & Clyde, a collaboration with composer Frank Wildhorn, lyricist Don Black and librettist Ivan Menchell. The showed opened at the Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre on December 1, 2011 and closed on December 30th. Bonnie & Clyde had its world premiere at La Jolla Playhouse in 2009 and had another out-of-town tryout at the Asolo Repertory Theatre in Sarasota, Florida, in 2010. Calhoun also directed and choreographed the national tour of Dolly Parton's 9 to 5: The Musical, which began performances in September 2010 in Nashville, Tennessee.Calhoun's most recent success is Disney's Newsies. After a critically acclaimed run at the Paper Mill Playhouse in Millburn, New Jersey in Fall 2011, Disney Theatrical Productions announced that the show would transfer to Broadway for a strictly limited engagement. Newsies, which opened at the Nederlander Theatre on March 29, 2012, is now an open-ended run. The new musical boasts 8 Tony Award nominations, including Best Musical and Best Director of a Musical for Calhoun.

Next on Calhoun's plate is the first revival of Jekyll & Hyde (musical). The much-anticipated production, starring Constantine Maroulis and Deborah Cox, will play a 25-week national tour before landing on Broadway in Spring 2013. Calhoun is also set to direct the UK tour of "9 to 5" in Fall 2012.

My One and Only (musical)

My One and Only is a musical with a book by Peter Stone and Timothy S. Mayer and music and lyrics by George and Ira Gershwin. The musical ran on Broadway and West End.

Seesaw (musical)

Seesaw is a 1973 American musical with a book by Michael Bennett, music by Cy Coleman, and lyrics by Dorothy Fields.

Based on the William Gibson play Two for the Seesaw, the plot focuses on a brief affair between Jerry Ryan, a young lawyer from Nebraska, and Gittel Mosca, a kooky, streetwise dancer from the Bronx. The musical numbers evoke colorful aspects of New York City life but have relatively little to do with the story. The most notable feature of the score's original orchestrations by Larry Fallon was their wide use of brass instruments.

The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas

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.

The Boy Friend (1971 film)

The Boy Friend is a 1971 British-American musical comedy film directed by Ken Russell and starring Twiggy, Christopher Gable, Tommy Tune, and Max Adrian with an uncredited appearance by Glenda Jackson. It is an adaptation of the musical The Boy Friend by Sandy Wilson. It was released on DVD on April 12, 2011.

The Will Rogers Follies

The Will Rogers Follies is a musical with a book by Peter Stone, lyrics by Betty Comden and Adolph Green, and music by Cy Coleman.

It focuses on the life and career of famed humorist and performer Will Rogers, using as a backdrop the Ziegfeld Follies, which he often headlined, and describes every episode in his life in the form of a big production number. The Rogers character also performs rope tricks in between scenes. The revue contains snippets of Rogers' famous homespun style of wisdom and common sense and tries to convey the personality of this quintessentially American figure whose most famous quote was "I never met a man I didn't like."

Theatre Under The Stars (Houston)

Theatre Under the Stars (TUTS) is a year-round, professional, non-profit musical theatre production company. It is located in Houston, Texas, performing mostly at the Hobby Center for the Performing Arts. Theatre Under The Stars’ season generally includes both self-produced shows as well as national touring productions. While best known for their main stage shows at the Hobby Center in Downtown Houston, and their annual free summer shows at the Miller Outdoor Theatre, it also offers educational programming through their training branch (The Humphreys School of Musical Theatre / HSMT), education programs for children with special needs through The River, and a wide array of community outreach projects. Founded by Frank M. Young in 1968, TUTS is currently under the management of Tony Award nominated artistic director Dan Knechtges and executive director, Hilary J. Hart.

Tony Award for Best Choreography

The Tony Award for Best Choreography is awarded to acknowledge the contributions of choreographers in both musicals and plays. The award has been given since 1947, but nominees were not announced until 1956.

Tony Award for Best Direction of a Musical

This is a list of winners and nominations for the Tony Award for Best Direction of a Musical. Prior to 1960, category for direction included plays and musicals.

Triad Theatre

The Triad Theatre, formerly known as Palsson's Supper Club, Steve McGraw's, and Stage 72, is a performing arts venue located on West 72nd Street on New York's Upper West Side. The theatre has been the original home to some of the longest running Off-Broadway shows including Forever Plaid, Forbidden Broadway, Boobs! The Musical and Secrets Every Smart Traveler Should Know

The Triad Theater is currently owned and operated by Peter Martin and partner Rick Newman, founder of New York's famed comedy and music venue, Catch a Rising Star. The Theater was built in 1984 and was the original home of four of the most successful shows in off Broadway History: Forbidden Broadway, Forever Plaid, Spamilton and Celebrity Autobiography. The hit comedy show Celebrity Autobiography is now in it's 9th year at the venue and a month long workshop production of Seth Rudetsky’s show Disaster went on to a Broadway Production at the Nederlander Theater. Some of the notable performers who have performed on the Triad stage include Martin Short, Kristen Wiig, Kevin Hart, Ryan Reynolds, Matthew Broderick, Bob Weir (Grateful Dead), Vanessa Williams, Jake LaMotta, Brooke Shields, Paul Rudd, David Steinberg, Slash, George Bensen, Greg Allman, Gavin DeGraw, Bebe Neuwirth, Jim Dale, Peter Boyle, Tracey Morgan, Tommy Tune, Ben Vereen, Air Supply, Dion and many others from the worlds of comedy, music & theater. Lady Gaga made her professional debut on our stage as part of the Circle in the Square Cabaret Program. In the 1980’s Christopher Walken, Elizabeth Taylor, Liza Minnelli, Jack Nicholson, Robert DeNiro and many other well known performers would use the Theater for their own weekly private performances. A 30 minutes Bose TV commercial was filmed at the Theater as well as TV episodes for a VH1 reality show with Michelle Williams of Destiny's Child. Amy Poehler filmed an episode of Difficult people in the venue. The Theater has also been featured on the cover of Manhatten Magazine and Miami Magazine with the Academy Award winning actor Adrien Brody. The Triad's proprietors are Peter Martin and Rick Newman (original owner of Catch a Rising Star Comedy Club and Pat Benatar's Manager).

Awards for Tommy Tune

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