- Last Updated: 11:56 PM, November 22, 2012
- Posted: 11:00 PM, November 22, 2012
TOMMY TUNE: TAPS, TUNES & TALL TALES
Feinstein’s at Loews Regency; 212-339-4095. Next shows Sunday and Monday.
You can hardly blame Tommy Tune for being a little self-congratulatory in “Taps, Tunes & Tall Tales,” his new show at Feinstein’s at Loews Regency. After all, the 6-foot-6 performer, director and choreographer (“Grand Hotel,” “The Will Rogers Follies”) racked up nine Tony Awards and just about every other theatrical honor during his half-century career. The New York Landmarks Conservancy even designated him a “Living Landmark.”
And yet an air of melancholy permeates the proceedings, which begin with Leiber and Stoller’s “I’ve Got Them Feelin’ Too Good Today Blues.” The 73-year-old hasn’t staged a Broadway musical since 1994’s short-lived “The Best Little Whorehouse Goes Public,” and it’s our loss.
One of the show’s most moving segments is his description of being onstage with Charles “Honi” Coles when the late, great tap dancer suffered a devastating stroke. He recounts how he recently lost his precious theatrical archives to Hurricane Sandy, triumphantly adding, “I don’t need proof, I have the truth.” And he brings a real poignancy to Kurt Weill’s nostalgic “September Song,” wittily followed by Green Day’s “Wake Me Up When September Ends.”
For all that wistfulness, Tune — wearing a bright red suit that only he (or Santa) can pull off — exudes an infectious joy, especially when he elegantly dances on what he describes as “the world’s tiniest tap stage.” When he climbs a ladder to sing “Up on the Roof” his head grazes the ceiling, as if he can barely be contained, and “Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head” is permeated with a sunny optimism.
There’s a personal element to nearly every song he sings. Boasting about landing a job in the chorus of “Irma la Douce” on the very first day he arrived from his native Texas 50 years ago, he sings Carol Hall’s “I’m Leaving Texas.” He pays tribute to his “My One and Only” co-star Twiggy, reportedly the love of his life, with a sweetly crooned “I Remember You.” And his description of the end of a long-term relationship is accompanied by a tender “I’ve Grown Accustomed to His Face.”
Accompanied by pianist Michael Biagi, his musical director for 37 years, Tune’s personality is best summed up in his rendition of “Heart” from “Damn Yankees”:
“You gotta have heart/All you really need is heart,” he sings. Well, that and a whole lot of talent as well.