Tommy Tune: Tommy Tune, Tonight!

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Tommy Tune

Tommy Tune, Tonight!

Café Carlyle, NYC, December 16, 2015

Reviewed by Elizabeth Ahlfors for Cabaret Scenes

Tommy-Tune-Taps-Tunes-and-Tall-Tales-Cabaret-Scenes-Magazine_212No one moves like Tommy Tune, weaving gracefully past the tables of the darkened Cafe Carlyle and taking his place on the postage-stamp stage. There he is, probably the most recognizable and acclaimed song-and-dance man of our time, resplendent in a cobalt blue suit and flourishing a paper fan to Cole Porter’s “Too Darn Hot” from Kiss Me, Kate. At age 76, Tune remains an eye-catching figure, naturally elegant and statuesquely theatrical. As part of a evening of memories, songs, and dances, he remarked about first meeting his idol, Fred Astaire, who looked him up and down and said, “You are a tall son of a bitch.”

Tune is at the Carlyle to pinch-hit for Chita Rivera who postponed her engagement due to an accident and will appear in April. Luckily, Tune was available to perform his cabaret act, Tommy Tune, Tonight!  “I am offering a lifetime collection of syncopated, sophisticated tap rhythms” and demonstrates what grace and terpsichorean art are all about with the Gershwins’ “Fascinating Rhythm” and a drums-versus-taps face-off to the Latin rhythms of “Summer Samba” by Marcos Valle and Normal Gimbel.

On the tiny Carlyle stage, there is not much room for high kicks and flashing feet, but Tune’s rat-a-tat-tats accompany tales of his career, some high points, some nostalgic. Heartfelt is “I Got Lost in His Arms” (Irving Berlin). Sandy Wilson’s wry “I Could Be Happy with You” is one of the fond reminiscences of his work with Twiggy in The Boyfriend and My One and Only. He delivers a poignant salute to the spare sophistication of Charles “Honi” Coles with “Very Soft Shoes” (Mary Rodgers and Marshall Barer) and performs Coles’ choreography for Arthur Swanstrom and Louis Alter’s “Sand in My Shoes.” Also in the smooth, nonchalant Coles vein is “Nice ‘n’ Easy” (Alan & Marilyn Bergman/Lew Spence) and Burt Bacharach and Hal David’s wry “Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head.”

“My dream was to dance in the chorus of a Broadway show,” he said. “Looking back, it was a foolish dream because chorus boys aren’t built like this. But I didn’t know that!”

Fortunately, his dream came true the first day he got to New York. It was in the musical Baker Street. His career continued with memorable shows like Seesaw, Grand Hotel and My One and Only, honored as performer, choreographer, director, and actor, earning multiple awards, including ten Tony Awards, The National Medal of Arts, and a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

His supporting musicians are superb: Musical Director/arranger/pianist Michael Biagi; Robert Hirshhorn on keyboards; and John Myers on drums. Amazingly, while Tommy Tune is a tailor-made for the large stage, he has the appealing charm to bring his music and life into an intimate cabaret. He is a joy to watch.

Tommy Tune, Tonight! runs from Jan. 16 to Jan. 22, 2016

Elizabeth Ahlfors

Born and raised in New York, Elizabeth graduated from NYU with a degree in Journalism. She has lived in various cities and countries and now is back in NYC. She has written magazine articles and published three books: A Housewife’s Guide to Women’s Liberation, Twelve American Women, and Heroines of ’76 (for children). A great love was always music and theater—in the audience, not performing. A Philadelphia correspondent for and InTheatre Magazine, she has reviewed theater and cabaret for the Philadelphia Inquirer and Philadelphia City News. She writes for Cabaret Scenes and other cabaret/theater sites. She is a judge for Nightlife Awards and a voting member of Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle.