InDepth InterView: Tommy Tune Talks Feinstein's Gig, Upcoming Projects, Broadway, Hollywood & A Career Retrospective

InDepth InterView: Tommy Tune Talks Feinstein's Gig, Upcoming Projects, Broadway, Hollywood & A Career RetrospectiveToday we are thrilled to be talking to a nine-time Tony Award-winning performer/director/choreographer all about his illustrious career onstage and behind the scenes working on classic musicals such as THE BEST LITTLE WHOREHOUSE IN TEXAS, NINE, GRAND HOTEL, MY ONE AND ONLY, THE Will Rogers FOLLIES and many more as well as all about his new solo piece premiering at Feinstein's At Loews Regency this weekend - the one and only Tommy Tune. Taking a look back at his near-peerless legacy as the top director of the 1980s and 1990s on Broadway, Tune imparts his candid insights about show business and reflects upon many aspects of the aforementioned hit shows - from their inception and creation to their critical and public reception and their ultimate legacy - as well as shares stories about his time as a performer, both then and now, with the star-studded tales cumulatively involving such legendary luminaries as Gene Kelly, Barbra Streisand, Michael Bennett, Hal Prince, Maury Yeston, Ken Russell, Jane Krakowski, Sutton Foster and many more. Plus, Tune gives us an enticing glimpse of his new Feintein's At The Regency showcase, TAPS, TUNES AND TALL TALES, playing November 18-26, and casts his sights on the future, near and far, and discusses the types of projects he would like to tackle next - including, first up, finding the perfect NYC location for his environmental new theatre piece, 54. All of that, memories of filming HELLO, DOLLY! and THE BOYFRIEND, his favorite recent shows, plus tons of taps, top hats and tails - and much, much more!

More information on Tommy Tune's TAPS, TUNES AND TALL TALES at Feinstein's At Loews Regency November 18-26 is available here.

InDepth InterView: Tommy Tune Talks Feinstein's Gig, Upcoming Projects, Broadway, Hollywood & A Career RetrospectiveIt's Not Where You Start (It's Where You Finish)

PC: As someone who started out touring the country in road productions, what are your thoughts on the predominantly non-Equity, scaled-down tours that are so ubiquitous these days?

TT: It's changed a lot, hasn't it? We used to have national companies and we would take the actual Broadway show - not a scaled-down version, the full Broadway show - on the road. Of course, that doesn't happen anymore, barely.

PC: It's very rare.

TT: They are all very scaled-down these days - everything is bus-and-truck now.

PC: When Sutton Foster did this column we discussed you and Jeff Calhoun giving her her first big break in the Will Rogers FOLLIES tour and then her going on to do GREASE with you after that.

TT: Oh, yeah - we discovered Sutton for the Will Rogers tour, we did. Yeah, yeah - that's pretty wild, isn't it? [Sighs. Laughs.]

PC: It really is.

TT: You know, she actually lied about her age at the time - she was underage! [Big Laugh.]

InDepth InterView: Tommy Tune Talks Feinstein's Gig, Upcoming Projects, Broadway, Hollywood & A Career RetrospectivePC: Have you seen her TV series BUNHEADS? It's a fabulous show for dancers, about dancers.

TT: Oh, I haven't seen her show, but she is just so good in everything!

PC: You can say that again!

TT: I recently went to go see her in ANYTHING GOES and she is just remarkable - as she has been in everything I've seen her in. She carries, like, the whole history of musical theatre in her little body - she just knows… she just knows things; everything. It's almost creepy!

PC: She is very special.

TT: I mean, how she knows and feels what it all was and what it is all really supposed to be - she's amazing at making it all come alive again. Yes - I'm a huge, huge fan of hers.

PC: It is rumored that you have considered directing her in the new UNSINKABLE Molly Brown revival being developed. Is there any truth to that rumor?

TT: Yeah. I just wish it was a better show, you know?

PC: Unfortunately, I do.

TT: It's a good idea for a show, but I don't know if it works. I've done Molly Brown in stock, you know - I've directed it in stock.

PC: Oh, really? How was that experience for you?

TT: Oh, sure - it was fine, but, you know, I did everything in stock! That's why revivals really don't hold the passion for me, because to learn to be a director/choreographer I did all of those shows in stock - all of them! And, with stars! Star stock.

InDepth InterView: Tommy Tune Talks Feinstein's Gig, Upcoming Projects, Broadway, Hollywood & A Career RetrospectivePC: Stars such as?

TT: Oh, everybody - Jane Powell, Howard Keel, Betty Hutton; all of these MGM stars, once they stopped making musicals in Hollywood they were available to do shows onstage and they did. I think I did Molly Brown with Jaye P. Morgan - yeah, I did.

PC: That's a name going back a way!

TT: [Laughs.] Oh, it is! It is.

PC: Do you remember any insights anyone gave you in particular?

TT: Oh, well, they all did - they all gave me advice. You know, I was just gaga for them because I had grown up watching all of them in those Technicolor movie musicals that were my inspiration - it wasn't that I wanted to do movies, I wanted to do those shows on a stage. Most of them had backstage stories, and, to me, what was going on backstage was more interesting to me than the actual story most of the time anyway. [Laughs.]

PC: But you certainly made that work in your favor given the content of your shows!

TT: Yeah - I love backstage stories. But, to answer your question, Martha Raye used to have great stories, too - I remember her stories in particular.

PC: What were your favorite productions you directed in that era?

TT: Oh, there were so many! One I remember I really loved doing was GENTLEMEN PREFER BLONDES, with Betty Hutton.

PC: That must have been quite a show!

TT: It was! It was. That was an experience!

InDepth InterView: Tommy Tune Talks Feinstein's Gig, Upcoming Projects, Broadway, Hollywood & A Career RetrospectivePC: They just revived that at Encores!, you know - it's a great show. What do you think of it, especially viewing it now?

TT: Oh, it's a wonderful show - they all are - and, you know, it's a real musical comedy. These are real musical comedies and that's what we called them then - they weren't just musicals. When I came to New York, we did musical comedies - the subtitle for every Broadway show would be, "SUCH AND SUCH, a new musical comedy." Then, it became, "SUCH AND SUCH, a new musical," and, now, it's just, "A musical."

PC: If even that, right?

TT: If that! [Laughs.] Right!

PC: An illuminating progression.

TT: So, for me, it's like: I did all of those shows already, you know? I've done countless productions of SOUTH PACIFIC and OKLAHOMA and SHOW BOAT - all of those shows. So, the thrill of pulling them out and doing them again is not a thrill to me - I think that revivals should be for people who haven't touched them before. Me, I've already done all of them - and what's interesting to me now is doing something new.

PC: No revivals.

TT: No revivals. That's why I'm doing this Feinstein's show - they have asked me for years and years to do it and I always thought, "Oh, I wouldn't want to do that," but, then, I heard that Feinstein's was closing and I thought, "Wait! I want to be a part of that history, too!"

PC: Historic, indeed.

TT: That's why I put together this show, just for Feinstein's.

InDepth InterView: Tommy Tune Talks Feinstein's Gig, Upcoming Projects, Broadway, Hollywood & A Career RetrospectivePC: What can we expect from TAPS, TUNES AND TALL TALES? Is it an updated version of WHITE TIE AND TAILS?

TT: No - not at all. This show is completely new - it's all new.

PC: How exciting.

TT: Well, this is - and I can't even believe it myself - my fiftieth year in show business.

PC: Wow! Congratulations!

TT: Thank you. You know, I arrived here in New York in 1962 and I went to an audition that very day for "boy dancers who sing" and I got the job!

PC: What show was this?


PC: And BAKER STREET came next.

TT: That's right - BAKER STREET was my first legit musical starting on Broadway. My first job, though, was for IRMA LA DOUCE which was a tour of the show from Broadway - so, I don't really count that as my first Broadway show since I wasn't in the Broadway company, I was just a replacement, but we went on the road with it for many, many months. You see, my whole dream was to dance in the chorus of a Broadway show - that was my great dream that I tried getting.

PC: You certainly far succeeded that small feat in your career - right off the bat.

TT: That's all I ever wanted when I came to New York. In the Feinstein's show I recreate that audition - I remember it like it was yesterday! I remember everything that happened and I remember every word that was said and I just remember how it all worked - it was my first Broadway audition and you just never forget your first. It's like your first love - you just never forget it. So, I recreate that scene in the show and then I hopscotch through my career - not really performing too many numbers from shows that I have done, but using Broadway songs to tell my story and tell what was going on in my life and in my touring; as you know, I have done a lot of touring! [Laughs.]

InDepth InterView: Tommy Tune Talks Feinstein's Gig, Upcoming Projects, Broadway, Hollywood & A Career RetrospectivePC: A life on tour!

TT: It really has been. So, that's the basic structure of the show - I would say it is not a retrospective at all. I don't know what you would call it exactly - I mean, it's autobiographical, of course, because anything like this is; if you are going to do it properly, it has got to be attached to your feelings and your heart and your soul and your life and your life experience. But, I tell a lot of stories in it, too - I can tell you that. After all, it is called TAPS, TUNES AND TALL TALES, which is an apt title because that is what we do in it.

PC: So, we cover a lot of material from your sensational autobiography, I presume?

TT: Yes, we do.

InDepth InterView: Tommy Tune Talks Feinstein's Gig, Upcoming Projects, Broadway, Hollywood & A Career RetrospectivePC: Is it time for a fifty-year anniversary celebratory coda to that book since it came out fifteen years ago now, believe it or not?

TT: I think I have plenty more than just a coda! I've done a lot of living since that book. That book came out in '97, and, just look, so much has changed since then!

PC: You have worked on two brand new musicals in that time, as well - TURN OF THE CENTURY and 54. Is there a future for either, do you think?

TT: Well, for 54, definitely - that's still very possible. But, you see, the thing about 54 is that it doesn't belong in a traditional Broadway theater - I created it for the Jerry Herman Ring Theater on the campus of the University of Miami and it came out so well in that specific location that I am looking for a similar location to do it in in New York and in LA. I think I have found one in LA, but I haven't found one in New York yet. I had a possibility downtown, but I am sure it is completely wiped out now due to the weather - it was downtown, on 26th Street.

PC: What a shame.

TT: I have a studio on 26th Street, too, and I had most of my art stored in a basement storage room and it is completely filled with water now, so I lost a lot of my art. So, I don't know - I can't do 54 until I find the right theater for it, but I never say die!

PC: Hurricane Sandy has caused so much damage.

TT: It really has - totally. All of 26th Street was underwater. Our storage unit is totally, totally filled with water - I can't even get to it yet because they are still pumping, pumping, pumping. My assistant was down there and he said that they couldn't even assess the damage yet because they were still pumping it all out. So, yeah - everything there is drowned, ruined; they are just hauling everything out. My studio on one of the higher floors was safe, but the basement was completely flooded. The whole street is all art galleries and there are so many great paintings and so much great artists' work - Andy Warhol's and Jeff Koons's - that are just ruined. It's really devastating - the whole thing. But, as New Yorkers, we venture on!

InDepth InterView: Tommy Tune Talks Feinstein's Gig, Upcoming Projects, Broadway, Hollywood & A Career RetrospectivePC: How would you compare your first Broadway show, BAKER STREET, to Broadway as it is now, fifty years later?

TT: [Sighs.] You know, a show of that size could not be produced nowadays - that was an enormous production! It was a huge cast, huge set, huge orchestra - it was a spectacle. BAKER STREET was a spectacle and we don't have anything quite like that.

PC: That was Hal Prince's first big musical as director. What was he like back then?

TT: Oh, he was just wonderful - Hal has always been just wonderful. I love him. Back then, though, he was still finding himself - we all do. You know, everyone has their first show and then they have their second show and then you move on - up and up and up, if you're lucky. So, BAKER STREET was his first show and he was very kind and he was just wonderful to work with - as you know, too, since you know him. He's just a great guy and I love working with him.

PC: Another great director whom you worked with early in your career was visionary film director Ken Russell, on THE BOYFRIEND…

TT: Oh, my God! A total inspiration!

PC: Tell me everything.

TT: Oh, he was just so totally inspirational to me! Totally! I would never leave the set - I would just run off and change my costume and then come back and watch; I just had to. I wanted to learn from him - and I did. [Pause. Sighs.] He changed my life. He really did.

PC: How so?

TT: He opened my eyes - I didn't know anything about art and he explained to me what surrealism was, in no uncertain terms, and I totally understood it.

InDepth InterView: Tommy Tune Talks Feinstein's Gig, Upcoming Projects, Broadway, Hollywood & A Career RetrospectivePC: How did he explain it to you? He almost reinvented it in his over-the-top films.

TT: He did! He invented it all over again - he did! All of his movies were totally surreal. But, it was just a word he said… I'll set the scene: we were having dinner together at this restaurant, just the two of us; I went to dinner with him a lot. I just loved to be with him. So, I said to him, "Ken, what exactly is surrealism? How do you explain surrealism? How do you define it?" And, he said, [Ken Russell Imitation.] "Well, look: here we are, sitting in our nice suits, and everyone is dining and the wine is being poured and everybody is quietly talking. I mean, just look at this fancy dining room we are in! Now, what if in the middle of this dining room there was this cauldron and there were these three witches stirring it and steam was coming up and green goop was bubbling and green frogs were leaping out from the cauldron - and no one notices any of it! They just calmly sit there, talking quietly and sipping their wine still - having their foie gras, you know? And they sit there absolutely oblivious to these three witches and their cauldron. That would be a surrealistic image." And it stuck with me like glue ever since then.

PC: What an image!

TT: Yeah, I always understood it from then on - I always knew. It's the juxtaposition of two separate realities put together in one place.

InDepth InterView: Tommy Tune Talks Feinstein's Gig, Upcoming Projects, Broadway, Hollywood & A Career RetrospectivePC: That understanding must have been so instructive with NINE, especially, when you did that a decade or so later.

TT: Absolutely! Absolutely. Ken inspired me so much - he just inspired me. And, of course, we live with it, too - all theatre is surrealistic. It's certainly realistic, too. You know, people are sitting there in their finery and what have you and if you are doing TOBACCO ROAD there will be dirt on the stage and tobacco and turnips piled up and there is this place - this line - where the turnips and dirt turn to velvet and purple seats. It's about that conjunction - surrealism is about the meeting place between those two worlds. The real world and the art on the stage - two different worlds; it's all surrealism.

PC: What a deep understanding of it. I also love your definition of nuance in the book THE ART OF THE AMERICAN MUSICAL.

TT: [Laughs.] Well, unfortunately, we are sadly lacking nuance today - I'll tell you that much, Pat!

PC: Indeed. Your story about the Lunts is fantastic - how they would rehearse their scenes every night and even on the night of the closing performance they were adjusting timing and changing things, refining it.

TT: Oh, I love that story! Oh, I love it - [Lynn Fontanne Imitation.] "No, Alfred, do it again!" [Laughs.]

PC: Did you constantly revisit your shows when they were up and running and put new changes and adjustments in - specifically with replacements in the longer-running ones?

TT: Always. Always - I always used to do that, constantly. I never like to freeze a show - I don't like the feeling of that; I don't like to even say that term, you know, "Freeze it." Back then, that was what you would do prior to the last preview, you would say, "OK. Freeze it!" And, so, I would just stop working on it then for the time being if only for the sanity of the actors and then, once it was open, I would go back and fix. You know, you really never attain perfection, you are only constantly striving towards it.

InDepth InterView: Tommy Tune Talks Feinstein's Gig, Upcoming Projects, Broadway, Hollywood & A Career RetrospectivePC: What a provocative point.

TT: When I go back and see a show I think, like, [Sighs.] "Oh, gosh, surely I can come up with something better than what I've got happening right there!"

PC: Always perfecting perfection.

TT: You try - you always try. Also, the actors love it because it keeps them awake and alive - if you just make a little change, it still can be a big change to them; their acting muscles, their dancing muscles, their singing muscles. I mean, I would just go in and change something just to wake it up, you know? It's really important to do that.

PC: There's an infamous tale of Michael Bennett coming in when MY ONE AND ONLY was in previews and creating a whole new opening number for you that was wildly out of place, correct?

TT: Yeah - it was totally unusable.

PC: He put a modern framing device set in the 80s around it, right?

TT: Yeah - he was spinning it in a total other direction. And, as you probably know, we didn't ask him to do it, either - he just came in and did it! [Laughs.]

PC: That's Michael Bennett, right?

TT: That was Michael - he was just so strong and forceful. We had already been through so much on that show that I just said, "OK. Great. Go for it - if you can make it better, do it." Because, as you know, he was a genius - a total genius.

PC: Unquestionably.

TT: But, you know, he wasn't doing genius work on that - and he brought other people in to assist him and do parts of it for him and it all just wasn't very good.

PC: It didn't work.

TT: Our producers were sitting out there watching him and they said, "Don't use this - go back to what you have, it's so much better." So, that story proves that sometimes what we think isn't good enough is better than what somebody else can come up with, so that's why we reverted back to what we had and that's what we opened the show with in that case.

InDepth InterView: Tommy Tune Talks Feinstein's Gig, Upcoming Projects, Broadway, Hollywood & A Career RetrospectivePC: "Being Good Isn't Good Enough" as Barbra Streisand now sings from HALLELUJAH, BABY! A true Broadway motto to live by, no?

TT: Oh, ain't that the truth! You know, that's funny you mention it because I recently heard something so interesting: did you know that the root for the word amateur is amare, which means love, and that is why some of the wonderful theatre that you see around the country is performed by amateurs in local theatre communities and they do it out of love; they work from love. And, that is the magic ingredient - that's the secret; if you can infuse your performance with love, as an amateur would, you can touch people. And, so, you know, sometimes we get so complicated that it's like Brahms - Einstein said that Brahms would always burn too much midnight oil trying to be complicated.

PC: An illustrative point. Do you agree with Einstein?

TT: I think that sometimes we can get so into the technique of it and the smartness of it that we can lose the heart of it - and that is the most important part. That's what we come to the theatre for - to get that wonderful, wonderful feeling. [Pause. Deadpan.] I don't go for the chandeliers.

PC: No offense to Hal or PHANTOM!

TT: Oh, no - that's my favorite musical, actually! [Laughs.]

InDepth InterView: Tommy Tune Talks Feinstein's Gig, Upcoming Projects, Broadway, Hollywood & A Career RetrospectivePC: Who knew?!

TT: That's just a metaphor I use - people talk about the helicopters and the Cadillacs and the chandeliers and all of that; and that's all spectacle and it has its place, but I like theatre, you know? I like theatre. So, as we were saying, what's missing these days really is nuance - people are performing now so, so much without any nuance; everyone has a steroid voice and everybody can kick over their head and do triple pirouettes. But, to me, that doesn't necessarily give it the humanity we are really looking for in the first place - that reflection of life that people performing at their capacity gave give; with truth and beauty and humanity and heart, anything is possible.

PC: It's so emblematic of so many of your greatest musicals - feeling matters most in almost all of your shows; story is secondary to so much of NINE and Will Rogers; even GRAND HOTEL...

TT: Oh, NINE doesn't even have a plot! [Laughs.]

PC: It doesn't.

TT: You're right - it's sensations and mood and feelings. NINE doesn't really have plot - but, then, none of Fellini's work really does. There was quite a lot of plot in GRAND HOTEL, but, still, you hold on dearly to the nuance.

InDepth InterView: Tommy Tune Talks Feinstein's Gig, Upcoming Projects, Broadway, Hollywood & A Career RetrospectivePC: Have you gone and watched GRAND HOTEL again? There are some bootlegs are on YouTube and it was filmed for the archives, of course.

TT: As a matter of fact, I recently did just that - I'll tell you: I swore I would never, ever do it, but a friend of mine came to me - a friend who is quite young - and he said, "I just feel so bad that I missed your shows!" and he told me that he found out about the Lincoln Center Archives and asked me to come with him to see GRAND HOTEL. I told him that I really didn't want to go - because, you know, it makes me sad! People that were in it are dead and time has passed and I don't know. I feel like I have a good heart but being too sentimental… you have to be careful of too much sentiment in your life.

PC: It can strangle you.

TT: It can. But, anyway, I went and… [Big Laugh.] I couldn't believe how good it was!

PC: It is a one-of-a-kind masterpiece! That opening - wow! You may not be aware, but the first Boston preview pops up on YouTube from time to time - the show was so totally different!

TT: Oh, I'm so glad people have seen it somehow, then - but, yes, the show in Boston was totally different; the director was fired!

InDepth InterView: Tommy Tune Talks Feinstein's Gig, Upcoming Projects, Broadway, Hollywood & A Career RetrospectivePC: Maury Yeston was brought in to write half a new score, of course, as well.

TT: I know - I called him up the minute we got it open and he was right there. In one day, he had already written the new opening and we went on from there.

PC: Jane Krakowski told me a fascinating story when she recently did this column about first working with you before GRAND HOTEL, very early on when you were developing NINE. Do you remember that?

TT: Oh, of course! I adore Jane - she was so great in those shows, wasn't she? She was just a little girl then, though - to play that girl in NINE back then. That was interesting, though - I remember working with her on that idea.

PC: Would you consider doing a revival of NINE someday or perhaps christen a recreation of the incredible original production, using your original staging?

TT: Well, as we were talking about before, for me, I'm just not interested in revivals - I feel like if we don't keep creating new musicals, we are just feeding off of our past; we're just eating the past. And, if we don't keep creating new musicals then there won't be anything left to revive in the future - do you know what I mean?!

PC: It's endemic.

TT: It's crazy! But, you know, I'm getting ready to go play Captain Andy in SHOW BOAT at the Houston Grand Opera and the Washington Opera and that's going to be interesting for me as a performer, because it will be my first time playing a grown-up part - at least my first dad role. [Laughs.] It will be interesting. Francesca Zambello is directing it and she is like the premiere opera director of our time so I am excited because it is an opera and it is an opera company and she is an opera director. That will be a new experience for me doing that.

InDepth InterView: Tommy Tune Talks Feinstein's Gig, Upcoming Projects, Broadway, Hollywood & A Career RetrospectivePC: A new challenge!

TT: Yeah - it's all something totally new for me.

PC: How do you take direction being a director yourself?

TT: Oh, well, I know how hard it is to do both - you know, there aren't many directors who still act; directors who are actors tend to be really good because we know how hard the job is. I think I am a director's dream - I'll try anything they want!

PC: "It's Not Where You Start, It's Where You Finish", to cite SEESAW! You are the actual one singular sensation being Michael's muse - you are the only one who made the transition so successfully.

TT: I do think that I am the only who did both sides of the footlights in the way I did - to direct/choreograph to success and to perform to success.

PC: Your protégés Jeff Calhoun and Jerry Mitchell both were performers in their day, but you have excelled in each art in your own way - continually, still.

TT: Yeah, they're not performers anymore, really - but I am so happy for their success and all they are up to.

PC: What have been some of your favorite recent musicals?

TT: Well, I loved ONCE - I have seen ONCE five times. I just love it. I also loved THE LIGHT IN THE PIAZZA - that is my other great favorite. I just adore that musical.

InDepth InterView: Tommy Tune Talks Feinstein's Gig, Upcoming Projects, Broadway, Hollywood & A Career RetrospectivePC: What are your thoughts on GLEE and SMASH?

TT: I don't watch a lot of television, but I know television has been helping theatre lately, so I love it for that. [Laughs.] Lord knows, the theatre is the magnificent invalid, as always…

PC: You can say that again.

TT: Theatre is just so small compared to how many people you can reach on television, but it's not necessarily about scale, anyway, it's about quality - and, with the quality, we just have to try to keep our standards up in the theatre, playing to smaller audiences. I mean, how many seats are there in a Broadway house, a couple thousand? That's nothing - that's a drop in the bucket compared to the audience out there today that you can get by being on television. I think it's most important that we always give the best of ourselves and have the sophistication and the nuance in our entertainment - and stay aware of the enlightenment it is capable of giving!

PC: A powerful message.

TT: You see, I learned in school that the purpose of the theatre is always to entertain and to enlighten and we have fallen mostly into just entertainment at this point, it seems to me. The thing is, when you leave the theatre you should have that feeling of having been entertained, but when you sit down to dinner afterwards there should be things to discuss - things of a deeper nature - about what you've just seen. Things that help you in your life somehow - things that reside in the apartments of your memory forever. That's where you hold theatre - in those apartments of your mind - because, you know, you can't see the performances again. You have to hold them there in your memory - that's what makes theatre so precious.

InDepth InterView: Tommy Tune Talks Feinstein's Gig, Upcoming Projects, Broadway, Hollywood & A Career RetrospectivePC: One of my favorite modern playwrights is Caryl Churchill, yet she does not have the respect she deserves. What are your memories of working on her groundbreaking CLOUD 9?

TT: [Sighs.] Oh, that was my favorite show that I ever worked on.

PC: Why so?

TT: Because she is such an original! She is totally original.

PC: She is so underrated.

TT: She is. You know, I think a lot of that is because she is very almost Socialistic - she is very focused on being just this woman who is creating, creating, creating; original, original, original. She really is something else. I love her - I love working with her.

PC: That play is genius. It reads so well, too.

TT: It's easy to get mixed up, though - especially reading it! When you see it onstage it becomes so clear - all the doublings; and they are all so brilliant. Boy, oh, boy - I just loved working on CLOUD 9. [Pause. Sighs.] That's the best material I've ever been given - CLOUD 9.

PC: The last thing I wanted to touch upon was your work with Gene Kelly on HELLO, DOLLY! What was that experience like for you - particularly now, looking back, as perhaps the only other equally gifted dancer/choreographer/director of the era?

TT: Oh, gosh - Gene was just the greatest. I loved working with him - I absolutely loved everything about it. You know, on that film, I think working with Barbra was difficult for him.

InDepth InterView: Tommy Tune Talks Feinstein's Gig, Upcoming Projects, Broadway, Hollywood & A Career RetrospectivePC: That was filmed right after FUNNY GIRL, under contract, I believe.

TT: It was. She wasn't a movie star at the time - FUNNY GIRL had not been released yet, so she was not known as a screen presence. They really didn't know if it would work with her or not - they only knew her from FUNNY GIRL and from her recordings. So, no one really knew if she was going to take to the screen or not - she was an unknown quantity then; an unknown thing. I know it sounds crazy now - can you even believe it?! [Laughs.]

PC: The greatest voice.

TT: The greatest. So, yeah, it was a little tough for Gene working on that because of that - and I guess she and Walter [Matthau] didn't get along too well, either.

PC: What are your memories of Michael Crawford? Did you two share any time together between takes and so on?

TT: Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah! Michael was just totally hilarious - he is so, so funny in life. Oh, gosh - I remember so many times he would just have all of us screaming with laughter in between takes! [Laughs.]

PC: That sounds about right! What a master storyteller and joker he is.

TT: He really is - he was so much fun. You know, with that movie, it's interesting you ask about it because I have a completely different feeling about it now than I did at the premiere - then, I just didn't think it was that good. And, now, when I look at it, I think it's really good! I guess it really shows you how quality shifts and how it has shifted so much since then. I mean, now, I sit and watch and movie of HELLO, DOLLY! And I say, "Wow, he did a really good job on this film! That was a lot to pull off!"

InDepth InterView: Tommy Tune Talks Feinstein's Gig, Upcoming Projects, Broadway, Hollywood & A Career RetrospectivePC: That's certainly something we will never be saying about the movie of NINE, I don't think…

TT: [Sighs.] That was very grave - you know, movies need to have plots. And, I'll be honest, I warned [Rob Marshall] - I said, "Be careful - there's no plot. Maybe you can figure one out with your writers." And, then, his writer died!

PC: Anthony Minghella.

TT: Right. So, his writer had just put the last note - the last word - on the page and then he died. So, he just didn't get the chance to examine it all with the director and go through the second and third and fourth draft of it, you know? So, I think it would have been much different had he not suffered that loss.

PC: And a great loss it was.

TT: It was tragic. I mean, he had just finished the last word and he never got to take another look at it.

PC: What do you think of Maury Yeston's new material for the film? I thought all the new songs were pretty fabulous myself.

TT: Oh, they are - Maury is just a fountain! He's a fountain.

PC: You famously worked on THE QUEEN OF BASIN STREET with him before LA CAGE AUX FOLLES became a big hit with the same storyline, more or less.

TT: That's right. It had another great score - he can do so much. I hope we can work together again someday.

PC: Indeed! Wow, Tommy - this was absolutely amazing. Thank you so very much.

TT: Thanks, Pat. You're so well-informed and so kind. This was a lot of fun. Bye bye.

InDepth InterView: Tommy Tune Talks Feinstein's Gig, Upcoming Projects, Broadway, Hollywood & A Career Retrospective


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Pat Cerasaro Pat Cerasaro contributes exclusive scholarly columns including InDepth InterViews, Sound Off, Theatrical Throwback Thursdays, Flash Friday and Flash Special as well as additional special features, world premiere clips and extensive news coverage. His work for the site has appeared in The New York Times, The Hollywood Reporter, US Weekly, The Biography Channel, NBC and more. He also wrote and directed two sold-out 2014 BroadwayWorld charity concert events featuring all-star casts, EVERYTHING'S COMING UP BROADWAYWORLD.COM: A JULE STYNE TRIBUTE and THE LORD & THE MASTER: BROADWAYWORLD.COM SINGS THE MUSIC OF ANDREW LLOYD WEBBER & STEPHEN SONDHEIM.