Tommy Tune, Lynn Wyatt Join the Cast of Houston Grand Opera's SHOW BOAT
A native of Houston, Tune attended Lamar High School and will make his debut with HGO performing the role of Cap'n Andy Hawks, the blustery but kindly owner of the riverboat Cotton Blossom. This role marks Tune's first-ever performances with an opera company.
Tune won nine Tony Awards across four categories in consecutive years, a singular honor, and has achieved both critical and commercial success as a dancer, actor, director, and choreographer. For more than five decades, Tune has been praised for his stylish tap-dancing coupled with infectious energy and brilliant comic timing. He is a recipient of The National Medal of Arts, given by the President of the United States – the country's highest honor for artistic achievement. Tune has also been honored with his own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
He is, of course, the namesake of Houston's Tommy Tune Awards, a prestigious competition that recognizes local high school achievement in musical theater. The awards have inspired numbers of young performers to pursue careers in theater and music.
Tune commented, "I am thrilled to return home to Houston to make my debut at Houston Grand Opera performing in one of the greatest American classics."
Well-known philanthropist and style icon Lynn Wyatt, a native Houstonian and third-generation Texan, will also make her HGO debut as the Lady on the Levee, a graceful, wise townsperson who has witnessed the romance of Magnolia and her ne'er-do-well husband, Ravenal, as they separate and unite over several decades.
HGO Artistic and Music Director Patrick Summers said, "What a delight to welcome to our already-stellar Show Boat cast these two unique native Texans: the inimitable Tommy Tune in the leading role of Cap'n Andy and our own board member Lynn Wyatt in the cameo role of the Lady on the Levee."
Francesca Zambello, the internationally renowned stage director of the production, is equally enthusiastic: "I have long admired the work of Tommy Tune as performer, director and living theatrical legend, so to have the chance to collaborate at HGO on Show Boat will be felicitous. Cap'n Andy is the great showman of his floating theater and I am sure Tommy Tune will bring something unique and fresh to our production. It should not be missed."
Show Boat, first staged in 1927, is considered the most operatic of Kern's scores. It was a breakthrough work that introduced many innovative conventions to the Broadway musical stage. In contrast to the popular entertainment of the time, the music did not exist solely for entertainment's sake, but to further and enhance the drama as the score helped to define the characters.
A revolution not only in artistic terms but also in its realistic portrayal of people, Show Boat was unlike anything that had been seen before. Showing people-blacks and whites-coping with real problems, it truly became the forerunner of modern musicals.
Show Boat was first performed at Houston Grand Opera in 1982 under the baton of John De Main. That historic production included the full original score and dialogue as written in 1927. The 1982 HGO production also played on Broadway in 1983, garnering a huge following that led to the acclaimed EMI recording, which became a national best-seller.