BWW Interview: The Legendary Tommy Tune of CHITA & TUNE: JUST IN TIME at MAYO Morristown Performing Arts Center

BWW Interview: The Legendary Tommy Tune of  CHITA & TUNE: JUST IN TIME at MAYO Morristown Performing Arts Center

I had the distinct honor of speaking with Broadway Legend Tommy Tune about his upcoming collaboration with the enchanting Chita Rivera coming to MAYO Morristown Performing Arts Center on March 24th at 8pm. CHITA & TUNE: JUST IN TIME is a unique concert event that pairs two of Broadway's most revered legends. Chita Rivera and Tommy Tune collectively have won 12 Tony Awards and this iconic Broadway coupling is guaranteed to razzle dazzle audiences everywhere. The stars will showcase the artistry and history that has made them stars of the Great White Way and beyond. The duo will be accompanied by a trio of superb Broadway musicians.

Thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to chat with me!

Just got in from Florida! I'm getting a Lifetime Achievement Award from a group called TADA! They are a group of incredibly talented young people who work with really impressive music teachers and conductors. They do choral versions of Broadway songs and I've had them entertain at my residence several times, had them up for a Christmas party and then for a wedding I gave out on my terrace. They are wonderful, very professional; they are honoring me but I'm really honoring them because I think they are just great. They remind me of a group I was in when I was there age called the Houston Honeys, we would perform for the church or the back of a truck, we would play anywhere! But these students are truly professional and I'm so impressed by them. So I have to think about what I'm going to say tonight, it's such an honor!

Well when you have received as many Lifetime Achievement awards as you have...

I think they are trying to tell me something.

Please tell our fans what they can expect from the concert!
Two people who love each other performing together for the first time. We just had such a love affair putting this show together. And as different as we are we have so much in common! While putting the show together we had so many parallel stories, we kept laughing about it! We've never really performed together, we presented the George Abbott Award on the Tony's and that was the one time we were on stage together before this. And it was her idea! There's a wonderful hotel in Palm Beach Florida called the Colony and there's this room called The Royal Room and Chita was playing there and as I was arriving with my suitcases and costumes as she was leaving with her suitcases and costumes and I asked her how it went and said I wish I hadn't missed it. She looked at me and said "You know we should do something together sometime" and right there in the middle of the lobby of the Colony Hotel in Palm Beach it clicked! It took us two years to clear our schedules and now we've been doing it all over. Now it's coming up on March 24th in Morristown!

That was actually my next question, how did you and Mrs. Rivera meet and how did this collaboration come about?

It was all her idea! We've just missed each other many times in our lives and you think everyone in show business knows each other. We've met at various benefits and places you are in the same room as your peers. What people should expect are two legends doing what they love to do but the new part is that we are doing it together. We have a lot of new material that we cover and she does some of her expected songs and I do some of mine because we both have solo acts. This is a conjoined work so we work together, she does her material and I do mine. It's a nice evening, people seem to really love it!

You have had such a prolific career so far with a ton of material to choose from, how did you decide what pieces to use for this concert and for your one man show Tommy Tune Tonight?
The hard part is what to leave out! Process of elimination and what works with what she brings to the table. We have ballads and up tempo tunes and duets. It's carefully put together. Graciela Daniele directed it for us. We are just having a ball together, that's all! We tell stories and there's a part in the middle where we talk to each other. She's full of surprises, she's an imp on stage, and I'm more like falling water and she's a firecracker! I never know what she's going to do next, each performance is unique, she makes me laugh, she is truly funny and so fun to work with!

I'm always interested in what initially inspires an artist to devote their lives to a certain craft. How did you become the dancer/singer/actor we know and love today?
I talk about this in the show. My parents said that I danced before I walked. I was very good at crawling around everywhere down home in Houston and that one day I was crawling around in the living room and music came on the radio. They tell me this story where I very carefully figured out how to get myself up on my hind legs, I was a bit wobbly, but the music was the reason. I started jigging about to the music and I just danced and danced and danced and when the music was done I just stood there like I was lost and got back down on all fours and crawled into the den. I could dance but I hadn't figured out how to perambulate! So that's the story my parents always told me. It was months later until I could actually walk! It was like I was born to dance! Everything else just followed suit. It was dancing, then I discovered what Broadway was and Broadway was even better than dancing because it was singing and acting and story wrapped all together in this wonderful package - it was so elevating! And I decided that was what I wanted to do! So I majored in theater in college at the University of Texas with a degree in Directing. I went into directing because I didn't want to major in acting. All the directing students had to take acting classes but for some reason they didn't have to take lighting and I knew that I couldn't pass the lighting course and it would wreck my average because the lighting teacher was such a bastard! It's all so technical before you get to the magic of illumination, all the wiring and the numbers and I'm not good with that type of thing. So I majored in directing which is interesting because that's what I became later. I've had such an unique career because I've been on both sides of the foot line. I'm up on stage doing what I love to do and then directing is completely different, it's two totally different perspectives! I'm always aware that one side is so different than the other, it's almost like Alice through the looking glass, two completely different worlds! Fascinating perspective! When I'm performing it takes me a while to let go of The Director. It's easy when I'm with Chita because she owns the stage as an actress.

How did you connect with this particular director?

Chita asked her direct it for us. I worked with Graciela in a big industrial show called the Milliken Show at the Waldorf Astoria. Graciela has worked with Chita on many things, the last thing they worked on together was The Visit which was a wonderful recent Broadway show. I've actually known Graciela longer than I've known Chita. We have a great time in rehearsal, we laugh a lot! They are hilarious together.

It sounds truly magical! Is there anything else our audience should know?

It's a great variety of music, the playlist is really good! We have a great time working together; we dance, we sing, we tell stories and wrap it all up with feeling of the love for what we do. We've been blessed with our longevity because we are both up there, I mean, up there on the stage of course! We have so much fun, the audience really loves it, I haven't seen it but their reaction always tells me we are on to something good!

CHITA & TUNE: JUST IN TIME plays at the MAYO Arts Center in Morristown, NJ on March 24 at 8PM. For more information on the show and for tickets please visit

BWW Interview: The Legendary Tommy Tune of  CHITA & TUNE: JUST IN TIME at MAYO Morristown Performing Arts Center
Photo by Franco LaCosta

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