I am an ex Lightwave user. I want to know if Blender has Open GL capabilities like in LW. I would like to see changes made without rendering them, or is this question like the old saying “can not see the forest because of the trees”?
You can see uv mapped images in textured mode, In this mode you can also turn on GLSL mode to get a good idea of what the render will look like before actually rendering, but any generated or procedural textures will not appear correctly, a quick tip is to render the material as shadeless in order to test the material mapping for a very quick render.
Also, similar to this - if you turn on your Cycles Renderer, you can choose Cycles to see your UV mapped textures in a short time, as if a preview render - and you can then rotate the scene and see it update automatically.
Actually, this might not be what you want - since you would have to reassign textures to a similar material node in Cycles, that would mean you would be working in Cycles with one material combo and another in Blender Internal. Works well, but I think your initial direction is what you are looking for.