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Tony Tanner (1932–2020), “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” director

by Linnea Crowther

Tony Tanner was a British actor and director best known for choreographing and directing “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” in its 1982 Broadway debut.

Tony nominee

Tanner began his career acting on the British stage in productions including “Stop the World – I Want to Get Off.” He went on to star on Broadway in “Half a Sixpence,” “No Sex Please, We’re British,” and Sherlock Holmes.” Tanner made his Broadway directorial debut with 1976’s “Something’s Afoot,” then directed the Edward Gorey (1925 – 2000) adaptation “Gorey Stories.” He began directing “Joseph” while it was at the Off-Broadway Entermedia Theater, then went with it to its Broadway home at the Royale Theatre. Tanner was one of the first directors to cast the role of the narrator with a woman, making it the standard from then on, and he was nominated for Tony Awards for Best Director and Best Choreographer.

Tanner on how he chose a project

“If I find myself sitting around asking whether or not to take it up, the eventual answer’s invariably ‘no thanks.’ The response, you see, should be visceral, and for me at least, should be quick. I can intellectualize into infinity later, if that’s what the (mostly American) actors want, but a ‘yes’ or a ‘no’ comes very quickly from somewhere down there.” —from a 2018 interview with Broadway World

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Tributes to Tony Tanner

Full obituary: The New York Times

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