Tony Tanner, Tony-Nominated Director and Choreographer, Dies at 88

Obituaries   Tony Tanner, Tony-Nominated Director and Choreographer, Dies at 88
 
Born in England, Mr. Tanner made his Broadway acting debut in Half a Sixpence.
Tony Tanner_Obit Graphic_HR

Tony Tanner, who was Tony-nominated for his direction and choreography of the 1982 Broadway debut of Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice's Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, died September 8 in his Los Angeles home, according to Deadline. He was 88.

Mr. Tanner, who was born July 27, 1932, in Middlesex, England, trained at London's Webber-Douglas School before playing five years in British repertory companies. His notable U.K. outings included playing Stanley opposite Harold Pinter in The Birthday Party, a psychopath in The Last Ally at the Lyric Hammersmith, and Little Chap in Stop the World—I Want to Get Off at the Queen's Theatre; he would subsequently reprise the latter role in the 1966 Warner Bros. film of the same name.

Tony Tanner in <i>Half a Sixpence</i>
Tony Tanner in Half a Sixpence Friedman-Abeles/©NYPL for the Performing Arts

Mr. Tanner made his Main Stem debut succeeding Tommy Steele in the 1965 Broadway musical Half a Sixpence at the Broadhurst Theatre. On Broadway he was also seen in No Sex Please, We're British in 1973 and as a replacement in the role of Sidney Prince in 1974's Sherlock Holmes. He toured in Where's Charley?, George M., and Cabaret, playing the Emcee opposite Leslie Uggams in the latter, while Los Angeles audiences saw the actor in Captain Brassbound's Conversion.

The 1976 musical Something's Afoot marked Mr. Tanner's first Broadway outing as a director and choreographer. He later directed Gorey Stories (1978) and A Taste of Honey (1981), and in 1982 he directed and choreographed Joseph…, which starred Tony nominees Bill Hutton in the title role and the late Laurie Beechman as the Narrator. Tanner, nominated for Best Direction of a Musical and Best Choreography, also directed and choreographed the short-lived 1989 musical Prince of Central Park, his final Broadway credit.

Off-Broadway he directed Class Enemy, Forty Deuce, and Preppies.

Mr. Tanner was also seen on screen in Call It What You Like, Turn-Up for Tony, One Life to Live, Robin Hood: Men in Tights, Return to the Batcave: The Misadventures of Adam and Burt, and Exorcism. He also starred in his solo show Charlatan, about Sergei Diaghilev and the Ballets Russes, which brought him back to the U.K. after nearly five decades in 2010.

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