The worst-kept casting secret of the year was officially confirmed Dec. 22 when the MGM Grand Hotel/Casino announced Broadway phenomenon Tommy Tune as the new star of the hotel's lavish EFX, beginning Jan. 15, 1999.
Tune, 59, replaces David Cassidy in the special effects-oriented musical spectacle. The show is being rewritten to fit Tune's song-and-dance-man talents.
It had been known since October that Tune had plans to enter the Vegas show because his 1999 EFX schedule was cited by insiders as one of the reasons for the delay of Irving Berlin's Easter Parade, which Tune had been developing with collaborators as a Broadway vehicle for himself. Easter Parade was expected to open on Broadway sometime between fall 1998 and early 2000, but it has not announced dates and is still in development.
The 6-foot-6-inch Tony Award-winner (Nine, Grand Hotel, Seesaw, A Day in Hollywood/A Night in the Ukraine) will play himself in EFX, rising (in the opening) from the depths of the set in his signature top hat (as he did in the Broadway musical, My One and Only).
Tap dances and specialty numbers are being tailored for Tune's EFX stand. In one number, he will perform "a melodic, strangely exotic tap number with each step hypnotically echoing throughout the theatre," according to a statement. The show will retain its original premise of "a dream-like journey." Before Cassidy, the show's previous star was Michael Crawford (The Phantom of the Opera). Cassidy's last performance, after two years, is Dec. 31. The length of Tune's EFX contract was not disclosed.
Tickets range from $35-$70. Call (800) 929-1111 for information.
-- By Kenneth Jones