The Internet Theater Magazine of Reviews, Features, Annotated Listings


SEARCH CurtainUp



NEWS (Etcetera)



Los Angeles






Free Updates
NYC Weather
A CurtainUp Review
Tommy Tune: White Tie and Tails
Everything old is new again
--- the theme song of Tommy Tune's new-old Off-Broadway revue
The only thing new about Tommy Tune: White Tie and Tails is the venue the tall Texan and multi-Tony Award winner is christening with his retrospective song and dance show. This not too big, not too small $12 million dollar house 500-seat house, designed for the Shuberts by architect Hugh Hardy as part of a 39-story apartment building, is the latest addition to the ever more exciting Theater Row district. Its neighbors are Playwrights Horizons's soon to be opened pair of new theaters as well as a space housing five small venues under one roof. An escalator carries you up to the all crimson colored Little Shubert's lobby that leads into a raked auditorium with stadium seating to provide perfect sight lines from every comfortably upholstered seats which provide plenty of leg room.

The show itself is as Mr. Tune's opening number cheerfully announces, the "Same Old Song and Dance" -- all set to the music of Irving Berlin, George Gershwin, Cole Porter, the Beatles and Fred Astaire. Though there's no medley of Christmas songs, everything's neatly wrapped to make it an appealing holiday package, with Tune in his trademark white tie, tails and top hat (courtesy of Ralph Lauren) a charming and elegant Santa Claus and the singing, dancing and instrument playing Manhattan Rhythm Kings acting as his affable Elves, with Michael Biagi and his big on-stage band accompanying them energetically.

Years of performing in Las Vegas may have homogenized the Tune charisma a bit, but without diminishing his charm or glamorous good looks. Well aware that he's trim and agile as ever, he cheerfully uses the Beatles' "When I'm 64" to let all who care to know it that he's just a year and three months shy of being eligible for Medicare. His best numbers include a comic novelty piece "I'm My Own Grandpa", a film noirish "Shanghai Lil" and the snappy vaudevillian "When That Midnight Choo-Choo Leaves for Alabam'"

Tune's least inspired idea is to break the fourth wall for a question and answer session which comes off forced rather than funny or informative. The man sitting next to me turned to his wife and declared "a plant!" almost as soon as the woman sitting near us was brought on stage after asking "Do you remember me?" and then nervously recounted having a crush on him during his Texas college days. A number of readers who saw the show in previews have sent e-mails describing this same bit of business. It might have been more interesting and entertaining to go back to the projected images with sound tracks of autobiographical chatter and conversations with Carol Channing -- or even some brief excerpts of his only two films, (Hello Dolly and The Boy Friend).

As long as I'm mentioning those projections, they're the work of the best practitioners of this art in the business, Wendall K. Harrington go far to giving this revue the needed pizazz, as does Natasha Katz's shimmery, glittery lighting. With Tune living up to his name by belting out tune after catchy tune and , gliding gracefully through some eighteen of those "same old" song and dance routines -- plus two full encores -- there's plenty of pleasure to be found. It's not Tommy Tune in Grand Hotel or My One and Only or Crazy For You, but it is a chance to experience the flavor of those long ago days when movie palaces like the Roxie and the Paramount always had a big band show to go with the featured film. Judging from the enthusiasm of the all ages audience, enough of them are thrilled to have Tommy Tune back in town to make this inaugural show at the Little Shubert a big success even with more same old rather than new-new thing.

Directed by Michal Biaggi
Cast: Tommy Turne and the Manhattan Rhythm Kings (Hal Shane, Brian Nalepka, Marc Kessler)
Projection Design: Wendall K. Harrison
Lighting Design: Natasha Katz
Sound Design: Peter Fitzgerald
Tune's Tails by Ralph Lauren
Arrangements: Wally Harper
Orchestrations: Peter Matz, Randall Biagi, Larry Blank, Don Sebesky, Andy Stein
Running time: 90 minutes without intermission
The Little Shubert Theatre, 422 W. 42nd St. (9th/10th Aves) 212/239-6200
11/26/02; opening 12/18/02. Wednesdays through Saturdays at 8 PM, Wednesdays and Satudays at 2 PM and Sundays at 3 PM and 7 PM.-- $75.00.
The show announced an earlier than expected closing date of January 5th -- but plans to hit the road in spring
Reviewed by Elyse Sommer based on December 19th press performance.
-Order Tickets
Theater Books Make Great Gifts
At This Theater Cover
At This Theater

Ridiculous! The Theatrical Life and Times of Chales Ludlam
Ridiculous!The Theatrical Life & Times of Charles Ludlam

The New York Times Book of Broadway: On the Aisle for the Unforgettable Plays of the Last Century
The New York Times Book of Broadway: On the Aisle for the Unforgettable Plays of the Last Century

metaphors dictionary cover
6, 500 Comparative Phrases including 800 Shakespearean Metaphors by CurtainUp's editor.
Click image to buy.
Go here for details and larger image.

The Broadway Theatre Archive


©Copyright 2002, Elyse Sommer, CurtainUp.
Information from this site may not be reproduced in print or online without specific permission from