Tommy Tune teaches a lesson in technique

Aubrey Canfield

Students eagerly listen to Tommy Tune's words of wisdom. Photo Courtesy of William Taylor
Students eagerly listen to Tommy Tune's words of wisdom. Photo Courtesy of William Taylor

Tommy Tune, legendary star of screen and stage taught a master class on Friday November 20 to students in the theatre and music departments. The 6 foot 6 singer/actor/dancer extraordinaire was welcomed with warm applause from the eager students. Structured as an audition, the participants had the opportunity to perform their audition songs for him in exchange for some down to earth and constructive feedback.

With his musical director by his side, Tommy imparted some pearls of wisdom to the young Broadway hopefuls. He focused not so much on vocal technique, though there was a bit of that, Tommy emphasized the importance of knowing how to conduct one’s self during an audition. “You are the show,” said Tommy, “from the minute you walk in the room”. Sometimes singers and actors are so flustered with nerves that they forget simple things like thanking their accompanist or greeting their auditors; which, Tommy says, can reveal a lot about a person’s attitude and be the deciding factor if auditors are faced with a tough casting decision.

Being a dancer Tommy had a lot to say about movement in an audition. “ [The] value of movement on stage is so important,” said Tommy, “Less is more in an audition. Let the music tell you when to move.” Tommy was able to hit the nail on the head in regards to what casting directors are looking for in an audition; emphasizing age appropriateness, personalizing your material and coming prepared with more than one song.

A college graduate himself, Tommy told the students to use their time in school wisely. He admitted that having gone to college he was better prepared to conquer the professional theatre world.

At seventy years young Tommy Tune is still performing. Following his master class, Tommy appeared in Steps in Time at the Plaza Del Sol. Tommy has also directed a new piece Turn of the Century, which played successfully in Chicago and is now slated for Broadway.

Tommy Tune so generously donated his time, expertise and radiating charisma to an invaluable experience for those who attended. The participants, extremely talented in their own right, now have a bit more to work with and no doubt an impressive addition to their resume. “Technique frees you,” said Tommy. So let’s all hit the books, work on that technique and hopefully we too can look back on a successful career of fifty plus years, and nine Tony Awards wouldn’t hurt either.