It’s a rare performer who can star on a classic television action series that’s become part of American pop-culture, win top-billing on Broadway marquees in award-winning hit musicals, record solo albums featuring country chart-makers and play the leading man in a hit situation comedy. That rare performer is Tom Wopat.
The friendly, fun-loving and engaging Wopat first came to public attention in the late seventies as the freewheeling Luke Duke on the comedy-adventure TV series The Dukes Of Hazard. But it wasn’t long before his classically trained vocals took him away from car smashes and corny humor and landed him a role on Cy Coleman’s I love My Wife for his Broadway debut. He followed that by starring as Curly in an off-Broadway production of Oklahoma. But Broadway was calling him back and Wopat performed in the Tony Award-Winning Musicals City of Angels and Guys and Dolls. Tom then went on to creating the role of Frank Butler to Bernadette Peters’ Annie in the Broadway revival of Annie Get Your Gun, which earned him a Tony nomination. After finishing his second run of Guys and Dolls in 1994, he began to explore the possibilities of a change of pace. Though Wopat had never done a sitcom before, he seized the opportunity when Chuck Lorre, creator of the hit Grace Under Fire presented him with a leading role in his new sitcom Cybill. With the success of the show, called a “smart, bawdy adult comedy”, Wopat once again reasserted his versatility and enormous popularity. Other credits include a recurring role on Home Improvement, reuniting with fellow Duke, John Schneider, for a CBS Movie-Of-The Week, Christmas Comes To Willow Creek, Blue Skies, Peaceable Kingdom, the critically-acclaimed NBC movie Just My Imagination and HBO’s Taking Chance along side Kevin Bacon. In 2008 he starred in the role of Tom Hurley to rave reviews, opposite Faith Prince and Harvey Feirstein in A Catered Affair. Last year he returned to Broadway with a starring role in the hit musical Catch Me If You Can. He also just completed a role in Quentin Tarantino’s newest film, Django Unchained.
Born on a small dairy farm in Lodi, Wisconsin, Wopat began singing and dancing in school musicals when he was 12 years old. Upon graduating high school, he enrolled at the University of Wisconsin in Madison to study music, at one point leaving to be the lead singer and trombone player in a rock band. It is no surprise he went on to becoming a successful recording artist with the albums A little bit closer, Don’t look back, Learning To Love. Not to mention Top 20 country hits such as The Rock And Roll Of Love and Susannah. With the 2000 release of his album Still Of The Night, Tom Wopat introduced a new dimension of his talent. The star of TV and Broadway effortlessly reinvents a set of beautiful standards in a smooth, intimate and sexy style reminiscent of the crooners of the 40’s and 50’s. “We found things in my voice that we knew were there, but had never really been highlighted before,” explains Wopat. A little bit Broadway, a little bit country, is a great way of describing Tom Wopat’s latest album Consider it Swung. With his honky-tonk country-blues delivery of Delbert McClinton’s Maybe Someday Baby or his rural Mississippian folksy rendition of Ode To Billie Joe, Tom’s flexibility doesn’t seem to be a matter of self-conscious role playing but an expression of his far-reaching musical tastes and personal experience.