Seattle theater provides him a fresh and interesting experience
He also has earned a star on Hollywood’s Walk of Fame, written his memoirs and received the National Medal of Arts from nickname-bestowing President George W. Bush, who greeted the 6-foot-7-inch Tune with a handshake and a drawled “Hey, T.T.”
Still, at 72, Tommy Tune is performing a first.
“This is where I’m at in life and that is to have unique experiences,” Tune said.
Tune is debuting as director of his first Teatro ZinZanni show, “Bonsoir Liliane,” which opened Sept. 1.
Among the star-studded cast in this show is former Pacific Northwest Ballet principal dancer Ariana Lallone, along with French chanteuse Liliane Montevecchi.
Tune said he is trying something new for Teatro ZinZanni: a plot line that goes from beginning to end.
Here the plot takes place on the ZinZanni train of dreams, where Liliane is the star aboard, reminiscing some real scenarios and some imagined ones while the train stops along the way at Paris, the Marseilles docks, Russia and India.
“What I’m attempting with my concept is one unbroken line, one scene that flows into another scene,” Tune said in a phone interview. “For a ZinZanni show to bring something like that is different to it, but my background is musical theater. And my relationship with Liliane started way back.”
Way back indeed.
Tune met Montevecchi when he saw her in Paris when he was a “kiddo” and she sat in his lap during a performance. Years later, Montevecchi inspired the concept and was the star of Tune’s musical “Nine,” about film director Guido Contini’s imminent 40th birthday and his midlife crisis.
Montevecchi has been Tune’s muse ever since and they’ve done three shows together.
“It’s a joy,” Tune said of working with Montevecchi.
“I don’t know anybody like her,” Tune said of the woman who was trained in ballet, worked on Broadway and in Paris and Las Vegas, on television and in film with Marlon Brando in the “Young Lions.”
“She never wastes a moment of her life,” Tune said. “She’s indomitable.”
Tune is a bit indomitable himself.
In addition to the Teatro show, Tune has created a new show, “Steps in Time,” that is touring the United States. And after Teatro, he’s off to the University of Miami, where he will mentor a group of drama students as they develop a new musical about famed New York nightclub Studio 54, “Forever 54.”
Tune started in show business at the age of 5 in Texas where he directed his first production of a neighborhood group called “The Patio Revue.”
His parents both encouraged his dancing and passion for performing, Tune said, joking that he “left Texas before I ever moved away.”
“My dad really loved the fact that I danced and they entertained a lot and he would personally roll back the living room rug so I could do my thing,” said Tune of his father, who was in the oil business and trained Tennessee Walking horses.
From Texas, Tune went on to collect musical theater awards for his performance and directing skills, to win the highest honor for artistic achievement by receiving the National Medal of the Arts and to write his memoir “Footnotes” in 1997, though he joked it needed an update.
Doing a Teatro ZinZanni show for the first time presented Tune with the chance to “learn something instead of just doing another Broadway show.”
“I want to push the form,” Tune said. “And doing ZinZanni is a wonderful, wonderful exercise for me and diving into something that I can bring my imagination to.”