Dressed in all black, Tamara Tunie stands on the stage of the City Theatre, which has been transformed into a supper club, complete with tables and candlelit lamps. She’s singing “Papa Loves Mambo.”
Most people know Tunie as Dr. Melinda Warner from “Law & Order: SVU,” but she wasn’t always solving TV crimes.
“A lot of people don’t know I have a degree in musical theater from Carnegie Mellon,” she says.
Tunie’s back in town for her show, “Tamara Tunie: Legends from the ‘Burgh,” highlighting homegrown musicians, such as Perry Como, Billy Eckstine, Stephen Flaherty and Lena Horne, with whom Tunie worked in her first Broadway show.
“There’s a cavalcade of composers, musicians, singers, who all come from Pittsburgh,” Tunie says. “And I thought that’s what my show will be.”
Though she began her career doing musical theater in New York, Tunie says she didn’t want to limit herself.
“I’m a classically trained actor and I wanted to do Shakespeare, straight plays, film and television,” she says.
Some of her acting credits include “Julius Caesar” on Broadway, the soap opera “As the World Turns,” as well as a variety of TV and film roles.
“The people who knew that I sang forgot and so many people who know me from acting didn’t know that I sang,” Tunie says.
She revived those musical talents in a cabaret show called “Yes, I Sing,” in 2012. And her return to her musical roots with “Legends from the ‘Burgh” could be setting the stage for Tunie’s next performing venture.
“We’ve been having a conversation about expanding the show and blowing it out into a more theatrical piece – somewhat autobiographical,” Tunie says.
“Tamara Tunie: Legends from the ‘Burgh” runs Friday and Saturday at 7:30 p.m. at the City Theatre.