Press Room

Tommy Tune, Lynn Wyatt join “Show Boat” at Houston Grand Opera

Houston Grand Opera announced today that the award-winning Broadway legend Tommy Tune and style icon Lynn Wyatt will join the cast of HGO’s new production of Show Boat, January 18 – February 9, 2013.
A native of Houston, Tune attended Lamar High School and will make his debut with HGO performing the role of Cap’n Andy Hawks, the blustery but kindly owner of the riverboat Cotton Blossom. This role marks Tune’s first-ever performances with an opera company.
Tune won nine Tony Awards across four categories in consecutive years, a singular honor, and has achieved both critical and commercial success as a dancer, actor, director, and choreographer. For more than five decades, Tune has been praised for his stylish tap-dancing coupled with infectious energy and brilliant comic timing. He is a recipient of The National Medal of Arts, given by the President of the United States – the country’s highest honor for artistic achievement. Tune has also been honored with his own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
He is, of course, the namesake of Houston’s Tommy Tune Awards, a prestigious competition that recognizes local high school achievement in musical theater.  The awards have inspired numbers of young performers to pursue careers in theater and music.
Tune commented, “I am thrilled to return home to Houston to make my debut at Houston Grand Opera performing in one of the greatest American classics.”
Well-known philanthropist and style icon Lynn Wyatt, a native Houstonian and third-generation Texan, will also make her HGO debut as the Lady on the Levee, a graceful, wise townsperson who has witnessed the romance of Magnolia and her ne’er-do-well husband, Ravenal, as they separate and unite over several decades.
HGO Artistic and Music Director Patrick Summers said, “What a delight to welcome to our already-stellar Show Boat cast these two unique native Texans: the inimitable Tommy Tune in the leading role of Cap’n Andy and our own board member Lynn Wyatt in the cameo role of the Lady on the Levee.”
Francesca Zambello, the internationally renowned stage director of the production, is equally enthusiastic: “I have long admired the work of Tommy Tune as performer, director and living theatrical legend, so to have the chance to collaborate at HGO on Show Boat will be felicitous. Cap’n Andy is the great showman of his floating theater and I am sure Tommy Tune will bring something unique and fresh to our production. It should not be missed.”
Show Boat, first staged in 1927, is considered the most operatic of Kern’s scores. It was a breakthrough work that introduced many innovative conventions to the Broadway musical stage. In contrast to the popular entertainment of the time, the music did not exist solely for entertainment’s sake, but to further and enhance the drama as the score helped to define the characters.
A revolution not only in artistic terms but also in its realistic portrayal of people, Show Boat was unlike anything that had been seen before. Showing people—blacks and whites—coping with real problems, it truly became the forerunner of modern musicals.
Show Boat was first performed at Houston Grand Opera in 1982 under the baton of John De Main. That historic production included the full original score and dialogue as written in 1927. The 1982 HGO production also played on Broadway in 1983, garnering a huge following that led to the acclaimed EMI recording, which became a national best-seller.
About Tommy Tune
Tommy Tune is one of the most prolific director/choreographers of the twentieth century and has enchanted audiences over the past fifty years with his charisma, vision, and innovation. He started ballet lessons when he was six, but as he grew in height (he stands 6 feet, 7 inches tall) he turned to tap dancing and Broadway musicals. He won his first Tony Award for his first principal role in the Broadway musical Seesaw and went on to win eight more for acting and directing. He also directed and choreographed the original production of The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas.
In addition to his nine Tony Awards, Tune has garnered eight Drama Desk Awards, three Astaire Awards, and the Society of Directors and Choreographers’ George Abbott Award for Lifetime Achievement. Film credits include Hello Dolly, The Boyfriend, Mimi Bluette… fiore del mio giardino, and, in 1999, he made his Las Vegas debut as the star of EFX at the MGM Grand Hotel.
In 2009, Tune was designated a Living Landmark by the New York Landmarks Conservancy. To mark his fiftieth year in show business, he created Steps In Time, A Broadway Biography in Song and Dance. In his spare time, Tune enjoys painting in his Manhattan Tower studio.
About Lynn Wyatt
Lynn Wyatt is a well-known Houston philanthropist and third-generation Texan. A socialite and style icon who has been named to the Vanity Fair And Harper’s Bazaar International Best-Dressed List, she a legendary philanthropist and hostess. She has chaired prestigious events benefiting some of the world’s most important causes. In 1981, Princess Grace asked her to chair the prestigious annual Bal de la Rose in Monaco benefiting the Red Cross and the American Hospital of Paris, among the many organizations to benefit from her talents.
She has received distinguished honors both here and in Europe. The French government has named her to the Order of Arts and Letters with the rank of Officer for her significant contributions to the French cultural legacy. She was also appointed to the board of the U.S. Naval Academy by President Reagan, serving as an advisor for the Academy when it first considered accepting women. In addition, Wyatt helped raise funds for the Academy.
Wyatt serves in various roles for many worthwhile organizations.  She is a lifetime trustee of the Star of Hope Mission for the homeless, is vice chairman of the Houston Grand Opera Association, a member of the Alley Theater executive committee, and is also a founding trustee of the film department for the Museum of Fine Arts.  She serves on the executive committee for the Houston Ballet, is chairman emeritus for the Brilliant Lectures Series, and the International Youth Leadership Program. She is an honorary director for the American Hospital in Paris, and a founding trustee for The Princess Grace Foundation USA.
About Houston Grand Opera
Founded in 1955, Houston Grand Opera is an internationally renowned opera company with a reputation for commissioning and producing new works, including forty-seven world premieres and six American premieres since 1973. HGO contributes to the cultural enrichment of Houston and the nation through a diverse, innovative and balanced program of performances, events, community and education projects that reaches the widest possible public. HGO has toured extensively, including trips to Europe and Asia, and it is the only opera company to have won a Tony, two Grammy awards, and two Emmy awards. HGO’s performances are broadcast nationally on the WFMT Radio Network, and internationally via the European Broadcast Union.
Show Boat Details:
Magnolia Hawks            Sasha Cooke
Gaylord Ravenal            Joseph Kaiser
Julie La Verne                Melody Moore
Joe                               Morris Robinson
Cap’n Andy Hawks        Tommy Tune
Queenie                        Marietta Simpson
Parthy Ann Hawks         Cheryl Parrish
Director                        Francesca Zambello
Set Designer                   Peter Davison
Costume Designer           Paul Tazewell
Lighting Designer             Mark McCullough
Choreographer                Michelle Lynch.
Performance Dates:        January 18, 20, 26, 30, February 1, 3, 6, 9, 2013
Venue:                          Wortham Center, Brown Theater, Texas Avenue, Houston, Texas. 713-228-6737
Language:                      Sung in English with projected English titles
Tickets:                         Single tickets on sale Monday, September 24, 2012, and start at $24 
For tickets and general information go to: or call 713-228-6737 or 1-(800)-626-7372
Show Boat is a co-production with Chicago Lyric Opera, San Francisco Opera, and Washington National Opera.

Return to Press Room