Tommy Tune: Taps, Tunes and Tall Tales
Tommy Tune: Taps, Tunes and Tall Tales pretty well sums up the one-man band that will sweep onto the stage of Feinstein’s at the Regency for four more performances on Nov. 25 and 26.
The famously tall, beanpole-thin entertainer has become justifiably one of show business’ real treasures. He’s a singer, dancer, actor, director, choreographer, and, for all I know, scenic designer, art director and stage manager. If anyone can do it all, it would be this gentle giant.
Tune sweeps onto Feinstein’s stage, which suddenly seemed terribly, terribly small, like a tornado sweeping down the Texas plain. His aw-shucks grin going from ear to ear and those long, angular arms and legs seemingly everywhere at once, this guy could stand in for his native Lone Star State, where, as we know, everything is oversized.
That goes for his talent as well. Ever since Tune left his native Houston for the bright lights of Broadway, his trajectory has been steadily upward. The "Tall Tales" of the title refers to the arc of the evening, whereby Tune gives us a capsule memoir punctuated by singing and, of course, dancing.
In his very first Broadway tryout, on almost his very first day in New York, he tells us, Tune got his first part, in the chorus of a show -- and being a gypsy is much harder than merely being a star, he tells us. (I believe him.) The song he used for that fateful audition typifies Tune’s upbeat attitude about life in general and the tone of his Feinstein’s performance: "Heart" from "Damn Yankees" ("You gotta have heart/miles and miles and miles of heart").
If anyone has miles and miles of heart, it’s Tune. But I have to wonder how much of what he relates is truth and how much is, well, tall tales. To hear Tune’s version, nary a rainy day clouded his sunny life -- and for every thunderstorm, you can bet there must have been a rainbow at the end of it.
If there was one song that typifies the evening, it would have to be the Burt Bacharach standard "Raindrops Keep Fallin’ on My Head." "Cryin’s not for me" could be Tune’s signature line. Even Kurt Weill’s elegiac "September Song" here gets the easy-listening treatment. Tune’s first song might nominally be about the blues, but these are the happiest blues I’ve ever heard.