TOMMY TUNE - STEPS IN TIMEA BROADWAY BIOGRAPHY IN SONG AND DANCE FEATURING THE MANHATTAN RHYTHM KINGS
Dallas Summer Musicals
Music Director/Musical Arrangements ? Michael Biagi
Keyboard ? Robert Hirschhorn
Drums ? John Meyers
Production Supervisor/Lighting Desing ? Patrick Rinn
Lighting Consultant ? Natasha Katz
The Manhattan Rhythm Kings:
Reviewed Performance: 3/15/2011
Reviewed by Laurie Lynn Lindemeier, Associate Critic for John Garcia's THE COLUMN
I thank him for his amazing performance which can be described in one word?inexhaustible. Banked by the Manhattan Rhythm Kings, Mr. Tune presented a 90-minute autobiography of his prolific stage life of song and dance. What a life it's been! Who would think the son of an oil rig worker, horse trainer, and restaurateur would end up as a Broadway superstar? His parents, Jim and Eva Mae Tune, (shortened from Tunesmith) probably never conceived of this possibility.
However, in his storytelling, Mr. Tune related how as a toddler he gave his parents clues of his dancing aptitude. "I had not figured out how to perambulate, but I was already choreographing." Mr. Tune described crawling, standing up and dancing, then falling back down to crawl. Perhaps a bit unbelievable, but it was quite a good story, nonetheless, and the prerogative of the good storyteller is to embellish as needed. After all, a native Texan certainly can tell a tall tale now and then, right? Born in Wichita Falls and growing up in Houston, Tommy Tune has earned the right.
Besides storytelling, Mr. Tune even managed to educate his audience. I will admit there are two areas of the arts I had previously not been terribly entertained by: organ music and tap dancing. However, Mr. Tune converted me on the latter. At the beginning of the performance, Mr. Tune demonstrated time steps. The audience was tested, and, I'm proud to say, I was taught to distinguish between a single, double, and triple time step. Tap dancing will never again effect a yawn from me.
The Manhattan Rhythm Kings, song and dance men Brian Nalepka, Hal Shane, and Scott Leiendecker, fortified Mr. Tune with harmonic and comedic back up. Their number with a ladder especially enthralled me as the three men showed how three white roses and one red stepladder can be used to great minimalist affect.
The Rhythm Kings were first noticed by Mr. Tune in the 1980's as they performed hits from the 20's, 30's and 40's on the sidewalk in New York. Mr. Tune loved their song choices and tossed his card in their hat with a, "Call me." The match lasted for twenty-five years. However, Mr. Leiendecker is a newcomer to the group.
The transitions from one stage of Tommy Tune's life to the next were smoothly depicted in the show?great arranging and composing by Michael Biagi! The show flowed seamlessly. We learned about the "Traveling" time step as Mr. Tune told of his travels. The bit when the long tall Texan auditioned with others and crouched down to try to match the height of his shorter fellow chorus dancers was side-splitting hilarious.
Mr. Tune's choice to stand tall in life through it all was inspiring.
His undeniable passion for the arts exuded from his broad smile and radiated from his twinkling eyes. Mr. Tune has never been afraid to be different and is proud of it. Curious?there are sportsmen who fret because they are too short to play basketball and women who pine because they don't have the height to be a top model. Tommy Tune's 6' 7" frame could have stopped many dead in their tracks in the pursuit of a dancing career, but not Mr. Tune. He never stopped. He even broke one foot, then the other, but told us of Carol Channing's advice and encouragement, "Perhaps that's God's way of giving you symmetry."
The show in general certainly had good symmetry, that is, a pleasing balance and flow of energy from one scene to the next. The overall theme of Mr. Tune's love of performing and giving joy to audiences for so many years came through loud and clear. Occasionally, the balance of voices left me wanting to hear Mr. Tune's voice a bit more through the harmonies.
The number, "Mother", particularly enthralled me as Mr. Tune steadied his body and spelled out the letters of "MOTHER." Contortionists have nothing on him!
Mr. Tune has flown back to his home state thanks to the Dallas Summer Musicals. However, the performance closes soon?Sunday, March 20th. Although Mr. Tune described his lovely home in New York, he seemed awfully glad to be back in Texas for a time?a Step in Time, that is.
FEATURING THE MANHATTAN RHYTHM KINGS
Dallas Summer Musicals, Music Hall at Fair Park
909 First Avenue, Dallas, TX 75210
Through March 20th, 2011
Single tickets priced from $15-$75.
They can be purchased at The Box Office, 542 Preston Royal Shopping Center, or any Ticketmaster outlet.
Tickets are also available by calling 1-800-982-ARTS,
or online at www.ticketmaster.com.
For groups of 15 or more, call 214-426-GROUP