Tiger Haynes was pondering Miami, the latest stop in his tour with "My One and Only." There was, he concluded, another show he should be doing.
Rather than the Sandy Duncan-Tommy Tune hit, he should be reprising "Taking My Turn," an off-Broadway musical pegged to the idea of staying young at heart while turning old.
"We're down here in Miami," he said in a stage whisper, as though fearing a Miamian might hear and be offended. "I see nothing but old people. It would be wonderful to do 'Taking My Turn' here. They're sitting around down here acting old."
"Taking My Turn," in which Haynes co-starred in 1983, is dedicated to the idea that there are better things to do in advancing age than to sit around watching the pages of the calendar turn. The production will be aired Friday night as part of PBS' "Great Performances" series. Included in the cast with Haynes are Margaret Whiting, Marni Nixon and Cissy Houston.
There are themes in the musical dealing with leave-taking and death, played out by a cast ranging in age from 50 to 80, but if there is a single feeling to be taken away from the production, said Haynes, it is elation. "When you talk to people at the stage door," he said, recalling the play's New York run, "you know that the (negative) consequences of growing old have nothing to do with what we do on stage. There's a life out there to be lived."
Haynes has been out there living life for 71 years. A Virgin Islander by birth, he grew up in New York City and still makes his home there. He was the only member of his family to gravitate toward show business. He organized The Three Flames singing group, which went on to make a hit record, "Open the Door, Richard," and to have a TV show. He debuted on Broadway in "New Faces of 1956" and did a memorable dancing turn as Bill Robinson to Carol Burnett's Shirley Temple in "Fade-Out, Fade-In."
More recently, he has appeared in the films "Trading Places" with Eddie Murphy and "Moscow on the Hudson" with Robin Williams. He's touring the country in "My One and Only" with Tune, Duncan and Charles (Honi) Coles, playing Bishop J.D. Montgomery, "apostolic by sunshine, alcoholic by moonshine."
Haynes needed no adjustment in his own outlook on life to play his part in "Turn." "I've always thought there is something out there, and all I had to do was go out and get it," he said. "I'm always positive -- on life and my involvement in it. I'm always optimistic."
Indeed. Four years ago, Haynes married Joy Hatton, an entertainer some 20 years younger than he.
"With my thoughts about living and aging, I wasn't really acting in 'Taking My Turn,'" he said. "I was living my life and acting out the way I feel about life."