Looking Back on the Decade Tommy Tune Ruled Broadway
January 29th, 2015
by Josh Ferri
Director, performer, choreographer, producer and all-around Broadway legend Tommy Tune makes a highly anticipated return to the stage as the headliner/special guest of Encores! Lady, Be Good. Tune has nine Tony Awards to his credit, and eight of them were won between 1980 and 1991—the decade Tommy Tune ruled the Great White Way. (The one extra Tony —the first—came in 1974 for his featured role in the musical SeeSaw.)
In 1978, Tune returned to Broadway as a director and choreographer of the new hit musical The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, picking up double nominations for his creative work.
Tune’s next Broadway outing A Day in Hollywood/A Night in the Ukraine (1980) brought him his first win for Best Choreography.
Then came Nine in 1982, a most memorable year for theatre history fans. Tune (and his press agent Judy Jacksina) managed to win Best Musical and Best Director over the lavish Dreamgirls and its creative genius Michael Bennett.
Tune was hot hot hot. Next came a return engagement of Whorehouse and Tune’s new musical My One and Only, co-starring supermodel Twiggy. Tune picked up two more trophies at the 1983 Tony Awards, Best Actor in a Musical and Best Choreography. (For those keeping score, the Tony count is at five.)
Following the flop of Stepping Out in ’87 came the great success of Grand Hotel in ’89. Tune won Best Choreography and Best Direction of Musical, and theatre fans won this amazing Tony Awards clip of the late Michael Jeter (who also won that night) performing “We’ll Take a Glass Together.”
The final pair of Best Choreography and Best Direction of Musical Tony Awards came in 1991 for Tune’s last big Tony-winning Best Musical, The Will Rogers Follies. This dance-heavy extravaganza beat out Miss Saigon, The Secret Garden and Once on This Island for the big award that year, so there's that.
The rest of the story includes a touring production of Bye Bye Birdie, a couple of one-man-shows (including Taps, Tunes and Tall Tales), a Whorehouse sequel, that famous ‘90s revival of Grease, a National Medal of Arts, a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, a few lifetime achievement awards and a return to the New York stage in Encores! Lady, Be Good, running at New York City Center February 4-8.