Tommy Tune: “Here and Now”

Tommy Tune “Here and Now”
Feinstein’s at the Nikko, San Francisco, CA, March 18,2018

It’s getting so you can count the true surviving Broadway legends on two hands. Thankfully, we have Tommy Tune to count on for an evening of syncopated tap rhythms, song and fascinating backstories guaranteed to make you nostalgic for the good ol’ golden days of Broadway. Spry at 79, regally congenial and charismatic, Tune has earned his legacy. The results speak for themselves; he is the only person to win Tony Awards in the same categories (Best Choreography and Best Direction of a Musical) in consecutive years (1990 and 1991), and the first to win in four categories. He has won ten Tony Awards, including a Lifetime Achievement Award in 2015 (Wikipedia).

Backed by longtime musical director Michael Biagi, Tune easily maneuvered through a history of his Broadway career, along the way honoring his luminary peers and mentors. Opening with 1943’s “Let’s Get Lost” (Jimmy McHugh/Frank Loesser) including some soft shoe on the world’s tiniest tap stage, Tune then tapped his first of many nostalgia veins with his audition song “You Gotta Have Heart” (Richard Adler/Jerry Ross). Tune’s professional wisdom is evident in almost every number. “It’s Not Where You Start” (Dorothy Fields/Arthur Schwartz) is a life lesson in perseverance and grit.

Tune reminisced on a love lost with another Jimmy McHugh/Frank Loesser hit “Can’t Get Out of this Mood” before settling in to a master class on the interplay between his rhythm section of Marc Schmied (bass) and John Myers (drums) and Tune’s amazing tap.  A samba flavored “So Nice (Summer Samba)” (Marcos Valle/Norman Gimbel/Paulo Sérgio Valle), flowed into “Sand in My Shoes” (origin unknown) and closed the segment with a wistful homage to the late great tap master Charles ‘Honi’ Coles’, with “Very Soft Shoes” (Mary Rodgers and Marshall Barer).

Tune honored the memories of Gwen Verdon and Fred Astaire, regaling his collaboration with Twiggy on The Boyfriend and My One and Only. A lovely rendition of Kurt Weil and Maxine Anderson’s “September Song” led into a collection of Gershwin tunes (“They Can’t Take That Away from Me”, “I Got Rhythm”, Stairway to Paradise”, “They All Laughed”).

At five feet, 17 and a half inches, Tune is large in stature with the grace of a ballet dancer. Simple hands gestures evoke emotions and a perpetual joyous smile lights up the stage. Tune mentioned that dancers die two deaths; one natural, the other when they top dancing. One he can’t cheat, the other is all up to him, and he shows no sign of hanging up his custom Capezio tap shoes any time soon.