McAlester News-Capital, McAlester, OK

State House

November 13, 2013

Symphony Christmas: Program featuring Tom Wopat slated Nov. 30 and Dec. 1

ENID, Okla. — Tom Wopat has come full circle. He started out as a Broadway actor who became famous as a country boy, and now is back to Broadway.

Wopat is appearing in the Enid Symphony Christmas program Nov. 30 and Dec. 1. Performances are 8 p.m. Nov. 30 and 2 p.m. Dec. 1.

Speaking by telephone from New Jersey, Wopat said the past 15 years he primarily has done Broadway plays. He also has done some television, films and music recordings. He currently has an album out featuring big-band music with an updated style.

His trip to Enid is part of a nationwide swing. He will be in Denver the night before his performance and will go to Kalamazoo, Mich., afterward.

“We do different things,” he said. “We stay on the move.”

He will arrive in Enid Nov. 29, and rehearse with the symphony before the performances. The music was done by his music director and it will be a pretty simple rehearsal, he said.

He will be available after the performance to greet members of the audience, sign autographs and take photos. There will be copies of his albums for sale.

“It should be a fun evening,” he said.

Wopat was nominated for a Tony Award for “Annie Get Your Gun,” which he performed with Bernadette Peters, who won a Tony Award. He also was nominated for a Tony Award for “A Catered Affair.” His latest record, “I’ve Got Your Number,” has been on the nominee list for a Grammy Award.

“I don’t know if we won one or not, but we’re on the short list,” he said.

He also has acted in “Chicago,” “42nd Street,” the musical “Catch Me If You Can,” “Sondheim on Sondheim” and five weeks ago finished “Trip to Bountiful” with Cicely Tyson, Cuba Gooding and Vanessa Williams.  

His music mostly is contemporary, but with parts from the orchestra/big band hybrid of the 1960s and ’70s.

“I’m partial to lyrics and melodies, Frank Loesser, the Gershwins, Rogers and Hammerstein, but I also do hipper stuff,” he said. “It’s a lot of fun and great, great music.

“Our stuff has been very well greeted. It’s mostly standards, it will be fun and it will be swinging, we give it a little Sinatra riff.”

When Wopat is not working he likes to cook, and he also is a carpenter. He works out at a local gym, plays basketball several times a week and rides his bicycle around Manhattan.

“It’s mostly cooking, gardening and carpentry,” he said.

Wopat lives in Manhattan with his third wife and has five grown children — the youngest a senior in high school. He skis in the winter and rides his motorcycle in the summer. It is easy to ride a motorcycle in New York, he said. The area in New Jersey, where he and his wife have a log cabin, has many areas around where also he can ride.

“Manhattan is an acquired taste, but I’ve come to enjoy it,” Wopat said. “There is plenty of occasion to get away, but there’s no place like New York, New York, and the best musicians in the world.”

He performs to many different types of demographics. During his tour, he will go to San Francisco to play a club with about 150 seats, then to Los Angeles to play another club about the same size. He has not done much orchestra work in the past 10 years, and is starting to get reacquainted with music that has lyrics and melodies.

“It’s fun, it’s been a great time. This is material I get to do, unlike what we play on a regular basis,” Wopat said.

He was in his first Broadway play in 1978, the same year he started on television’s “Dukes of Hazzard,” 35 years ago.

Broadway has made changes over the years. Once, performers stayed with a production longer than they do now, he said. Mostly, performers don’t stay more than a year, unless the entire production is built around them. Sometimes they do shorter periods, which Wopat is considering.

“Doing eight shows a week is hard on you. From now on I’m doing limited runs three to six months,” he said. “Unless someone makes me an offer I can’t understand,” he said, quoting Larry Gatlin.

“I’d say it’s been a pretty good year, and now I’m coming to Enid,” Wopat said. “I’m looking forward to it.”

Tickets for the performances are on sale at Enid Symphony Center.

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