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Michael Riedel: Tommy Tune, 54 Forever and More

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Patti LuPone FANatic
Broadway Legend
joined:3/4/06
Michael Riedel's latest column from NY Post.com:

It was my good fortune to see all of Tommy Tune’s musicals while the Broadway legend was at the height of his powers.

The elegant, sensual “Nine,” starring Raul Julia and 15 of the most beautiful women ever to grace a Broadway stage. The enchanting “My One and Only,” with Tune and Twiggy dancing barefoot in a pool of water. The swirling “Grand Hotel,” with its show-stopping “We’ll Take a Glass Together” in which the late, great Michael Jeter became a human rubber band and bounded up and over the bar — several times. And the colorful, witty “Will Rogers Follies,” which featured a chorus boy named Jerry Mitchell (now a major Broadway choreographer and director) as an Indian, dancing — practically naked — on a giant drum.


Nine-time Tony winner Tommy Tune is working on a new musical about Studio 54 in its heyday.


Nine-time Tony winner Tommy Tune is working on a new musical about Studio 54 in its heyday.

Nobody rivaled Tune back in those days. And he scooped up nine Tony Awards to prove it. Alas, after the failures of “Best Little Whorehouse Goes Public” and “Busker Alley,” Tune withdrew from the field, putting an end to that great era of director-choreographers that included Jerome Robbins, Gower Champion, Bob Fosse and Michael Bennett.

But I’m happy to report that Tune, now 74, is getting back in the game. At the behest of his good friend Jimmy Nederlander, a theater legend in his own right, Tune’s in London inspecting a new show called “Top Hat.”

Reviews were mixed, and nobody I know who’s seen it has much use for it. But the material — Irving Berlin, Fred Astaire, Ginger Rogers — is right up Tune’s alley. Give him a free hand, and I bet he’d turn it into a confectionery delight.

(Note to the Nederlanders: Whatever happened to “Easter Parade,” which Tune was working on back in the mid-’90s? That might be worth revisiting.)

When Tune returns from London, he heads to Los Angeles to work on a new musical about Studio 54 called “Fifty Four Forever.” Tune developed the show in Miami last year, and friends of mine who saw it said it was great fun. The show follows the rise and fall of Steve Rubell, the impresario behind Studio 54 and a significant contributor to the disco ethos of the ’70s. The production is signature Tune — swift, colorful, fun, always on the move. The action takes place on a long red-carpeted runway, where the likes of Liza, Andy, Halston and Calvin do the hustle to such songs as “Stayin’ Alive” and “YMCA.”

Tune has, well, fine-tuned the show since Miami, and will open it in Los Angeles in the fall. The Nederlanders are quiet backers, and if “Fifty Four Forever” is well-received, look for its disco ball to twirl above Broadway next spring, just in time, perhaps, to upend next year’s Tony Award race.

Tune’s specialty is upending Tony races. He works quickly, and in the past slipped his shows in just under the Tony cutoff wire. “Dreamgirls” was the favorite to win Best Musical in 1982 until “Nine” came out of nowhere, and toppled it. “Miss Saigon” was the sure bet in 1991, and then, on May 1, “The Will Rogers Follies” opened, and swept the Tonys.

Tune also has a new autobiographical show called “Steps in Time,” which I caught at Town Hall earlier this month. It was delightful. Tune still dances better than anyone else on Broadway, and he sings with elegance and ease. Plus, he’s got a trunkful of great, old showbiz stories.

On a sad note, he reported that all his mementos — costumes, scripts, designs, programs, dance notations, opening-night telegrams — were in a warehouse that was flooded during Hurricane Sandy.

Nothing was spared.

Well, here’s hoping Tune will make some more memories for himself — and us — with “Top Hat” and “Fifty Four Forever.”

michael.riedel@nypost.com

Michael Riedel
Susan Haskins (Theatre Talk): "I love children. That's why I work with Michael (Riedel)."
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rosscoe(au)
Broadway Legend
joined:8/20/05
Um mike I saw Top Hat and thought it was a joyous giddy fun night of theatre, something that Mr Tune might have done himself twenty odd years ago,

Interested in seeing this new show in LA later this year.
Well I didn't want to get into it, but he's a Satanist. Every full moon he sacrifices 4 puppies to the Dark Lord and smears their blood on his paino. This should help you understand the score for Wicked a little bit more. Tazber's: Reply to Is Stephen Schwartz a Practicing Christian
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RippedMan
Broadway Legend
joined:8/14/05
I wonder where it'll play in LA?
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rosscoe(au)
Broadway Legend
joined:8/20/05
That was the one thing the article didn't say.
Well I didn't want to get into it, but he's a Satanist. Every full moon he sacrifices 4 puppies to the Dark Lord and smears their blood on his paino. This should help you understand the score for Wicked a little bit more. Tazber's: Reply to Is Stephen Schwartz a Practicing Christian
AnythingGoes23
Broadway Star
joined:11/21/11
Nederlanders have been wanting to bring Top Hat to Broadway for sometime and a lot of buzz happened 6 months ago when a whisper went around it was happening and opening end of this year the Richard Rogers. I think they thought with Nice Work still open, two similar shows couldn't play. Now that's off, I think there is a gap and Top Hat is ideal to fill it.
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Brave Sir Robin2
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joined:5/20/07
Where in L.A. could it play? The Ahmanson, Pantages, Geffen, and Pasadena Playhouse all announced their upcoming seasons.
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Patti LuPone FANatic
Broadway Legend
joined:3/4/06
Of course,the obvious location for a Broadway mounting of "54 Forever" is Studio 54.
Susan Haskins (Theatre Talk): "I love children. That's why I work with Michael (Riedel)."
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Patti LuPone FANatic
Broadway Legend
joined:3/4/06
Of course,the obvious location for a Broadway mounting of "54 Forever" is Studio 54.
Susan Haskins (Theatre Talk): "I love children. That's why I work with Michael (Riedel)."
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RippedMan
Broadway Legend
joined:8/14/05
That what I was curious about. I mean, the "major" LA Theaters don't have room in their seasons, and it doesn't sound like a big show. Are there many commercial spaces in LA for theater?
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CurtainPullDowner
Broadway Legend
joined:11/4/04
It could be a SLEEP NO MORE vibe, go downstairs to do coke with Liza, go to the balcony and have sex with Calvin.
ZiggyCringe
Leading Actor
joined:5/16/05
Hey, Riedel is right. Tommy Tune needs to come to Broadway. I saw 'top Hat, in London, and it stank. Tune could totally fix that show,he can do it. It was an entirely stupid show, and he can fix it.



Updated On: 6/29/13 at 01:22 AM
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songanddanceman2
Broadway Legend
joined:8/31/06
Top Hat actually got pretty good reviews here, played longer than anyone expected and won some major awards. As a fan of anything Studio 54 I'm excited about a musical about it, sad it's a jukebox musical though.
Namo i love u but we get it already....you don't like Madonna
mar97
Understudy
joined:5/19/03
FIFTY FOUR FOREVER is going to play in a disco/nightclub in LA and not in a traditional theater. There is one original song that got very good notices when it work shopped in Miami so I guess we can assume that will stay in.
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Brave Sir Robin2
Broadway Legend
joined:5/20/07
Where? Tigerheat?
Deena Jones
Broadway Legend
joined:5/27/03
Any news on this show? I am seeing he and Carol Channing tonight in Ptown and was going to ask him!
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Famebroadway2
Broadway Star
joined:9/28/09
The River is only running until Jan (not including any extensions). Circle in the Square would be a PERFECT space for 54 Forever AND it could slip in right before the TONY's like Tune has done before.... ;o)
Deena Jones
Broadway Legend
joined:5/27/03
That would be amazing!
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dreaming
Broadway Legend
joined:4/24/09
Circle is taken after The River.

I think if Cabaret closes (which it could depending on how the re-casting goes) it would be way more appropriate to put it in Studio 54. (They could even leave the seating as it is now.)
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FindingNamo
Broadway Legend
joined:7/22/03
Riedel isn't good with adjectives. Or verbs either really.
'First the Bastille than the butt plug.' -- M ______
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Kad
Broadway Legend
joined:11/5/05
If Riedel were truly in the know, surely he would've mentioned there was an industry workshop of Top Hat just a few months ago in NYC? Or maybe that doesn't fit into whatever narrative he's pushing here.
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Famebroadway2
Broadway Star
joined:9/28/09
Well there goes my bright idea to put 54 Forever into the Circle in the Square.... ;o)
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VernonGersch
Broadway Star
joined:8/9/10
This sounds really interesting and fun. I'm guessing the LA theater in question would be The Ahmanson since they have have an opening right before the holidays.
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AEA AGMA SM
Broadway Legend
joined:8/13/09
"I think if Cabaret closes (which it could depending on how the re-casting goes) it would be way more appropriate to put it in Studio 54. (They could even leave the seating as it is now.)"

Though would Roundabout let a non-Roundabout show take Studio 54? I'm guessing they wouldn't, not at the risk of it being a hit and tying up the theatre indefinitely.
Did you know that every day Mexican gays cross our borders and unplug our brain-dead ladies?
Deena Jones
Broadway Legend
joined:5/27/03
any word on this or is it dead?

 
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