Show History



Showtune was inspired by, and celebrates the words and music of, Broadway composer Jerry Herman, its title reflecting his autobiography of the same name. Herman has been nominated for the Tony Award five times, winning twice – for Hello, Dolly! and La Cage aux Folles. In 2009, Herman received the Tony Award for Lifetime Achievement in the Theatre and is a recipient of the 2010 Kennedy Center Honors. The songs featured in Showtune come from the Herman Broadway musicals: Milk and Honey (1961), Hello, Dolly! (1964), Mame (1966), Dear World (1969), Mack & Mabel (1974), The Grand Tour (1979), A Day in Hollywood / A Night in the Ukraine (1980) and La Cage aux Folles (1983).

Conceived by Paul Gilger, the songs in Showtune are juxtaposed into thematic scenes and song-cycles, placing a strong emphasis on Herman's lyrics and their optimistic messages. The song-cycle format creates dramatic sub-texts, giving through-lines to the show and making Showtune unique among musical revues.


Showtune is a musical conceived by Paul Gilger from the music and lyrics of famed musical theatre composer Jerry Herman. Under its original title, Tune the Grand Up, Showtune premiered May 1, 1985, as a cabaret production at The 1177 Club in the Gramercy Towers on Nob Hill in San Francisco. It was directed by Paul Gilger and Barbara Valente, with choreography by Valente and musical direction by James Followell. Receiving excellent reviews, the show continued to play there for the next two years, receiving many awards along the way.

Following this success, two additional companies popped up, premiering Tune the Grand Up in San Diego and Kamuela (Waimea), Hawaii.

Then, in 1996, New York producer Jennifer Strome optioned the rights to Tune the Grand Up and produced all subsequent productions of the revue, up through the 2003 New York production. Along the way were productions at the Delta King Riverboat Theatre in Sacramento, California, the Alcazar Theatre in San Francisco, and a London production under the new title of The Best of Times, which transferred to the West End's Vaudeville Theatre on November 3, 1998, following its initial success at the Bridewell Theater.

In the Fall of 2002, the revue, now aptly titled Showtune, had its out-of-town tryout at the Helen Hayes Theatre in Nyack, New York. The production was directed and choreographed by Joey McKneely, with musical direction by James Followell, Then, on February 18, 2003, Showtune opened Off-Broadway at the Theatre at St Peter's for a limited six-week engagement, where it received numerous rave reviews.

Subsequently Showtune has enjoyed great success, both regionally and internationally, mounting productions in Tokyo, Boca Raton, Denver, Los Angeles and Edinburgh, just to name a few.


  • In the 1996 production at the Alcazar Theatre in San Francisco, every member of the cast won a Hollywood Drama-Logue Award.