Just in Time

By Seth Reines, February 2018 Issue

Tommy Tune is back on the road, this time with Broadway legend Chita Rivera in Chita and Tune: Just in Time.

Celebrating six decades on the Broadway stage, Tune has received 10 Tony Awards including the 2015 Tony for Life Achievement in the Theatre and holds the unique distinction of being the only person in theatrical history to win Tony Awards in four separate categories and to receive the same two awards two years in a row.

His touring partner, Broadway legend Chita Rivera has won two Tony Awards as Best Leading Actress in Kiss of the Spider Woman and The Rink and starred in the original Broadway productions of West Side Story, Bye Bye, Birdie, Chicago and, most recently, The Visit. In 2002, she became the first Hispanic woman to receive the Kennedy Center Honor and seven years later, was presented the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Echo caught up with Tune ahead of the duo’s Jan. 26 Arizona Musicfest show and here’s what he had to say:

Photo credit: Franco Lacoste.

Echo: How did you two Broadway powerhouses team up for Just in Time?

Tune: It was all Chita’s idea. On her 80th birthday, Chita was doing a benefit for the Actors’ Fund in New York. Dick Van Dyke, her original Broadway co-star in Bye Bye, Birdie was supposed to join her, performing a number from the show. But Dick had to drop out due to illness. Chita knew I had done it on the road with Ann Reinking and asked if I would fill in. I jumped at the chance and the audience just loved it!

The next time I saw her was three years later. Luggage in hand, we literally ran into each other in the lobby of the Colony Hotel in Palm Beach. She had just closed her one-woman concert and I was opening Tommy Tune Tonight the next day. She said, “You know, we should do a show together.”

When Chita’s The Visit closed on Broadway, we both agreed the time was right. We originally called the show Two for the Road, but since I believe in “truth in advertising,” we changed the title to Chita and Tune: Just in Time. (laughing) Here we are tonight. Get it while it’s hot!

Echo: I hear you had a big project last year.

Tune: I don’t like to do revivals of my shows, but last year I was asked to do Grand Hotel again. This time in Japan with 100 women! To adjust the show to a cast that size with all the roles played by women was a real challenge. But it came out great and, so, I’m still really proud of Grand Hotel. (Editor’s Note: Grand Hotel is considered by many to be Tune’s masterpiece.)

Echo: What advice do you have for young artists with show business aspirations?

Tune: I tell them, if you can be happy and fulfilled doing anything else, do it!

But, if you will implode if you don’t get up on stage and do what you do or sit out in the audience and see what you want to see onstage, go for it! If you have that dream, hold onto it and make it a reality. If you find something you love to do and can make a living out of it, you are in high cotton. (Spoken like a true Texan!)

Echo: If you were to write a love letter to the LGBTQ community, what would you say?

Tune: We’ve been through so much, and I’m so proud of us. You know, I’m old, and to think that in my lifetime you could get married! That was not even part of the dream. To think how invisable we were, and now we’re not. It’s beautiful. And I’m so proud of everybody – the people whose footsteps I followed in and the people who are leading us now.

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