In defense of Tootsie

Allen S Bishop
Swing
joined:8/14/18
Swing
joined:
8/14/18
In defense of Tootsie#1
Posted: 10/21/19 at 11:27am

I was in town over the weekend for three shows, somewhat ironically, all previously movies:  Moulin Rouge, Mean Girls, and Tootsie. Media and reviews determine expectations these days for most people and I admit I am not immune.  So I had the lowest expectations for Tootsie even though I knew I was seeing a Tony award winning actor (whose star is on the rise).  And it blew me away.  Santino Fontana was EXCELLENT but the supporting cast was every bit as good.  I haven't seen anything as funny since The Play That Goes Wrong, but of course this is a different kind of humor. Loved David Yazbek's creative and clever score, too.

So I wonder why it hasn't caught fire?  Am I in the minority or have Broadway tastes just changed so much that Tootsie, a typical style show from years past, is now unusual and under appreciated?  Would love to see more of these kinds of mature and sincerely funny musicals.

On the other hand, Moulin Rouge, which has hype through the roof, was just OK in my opinion.  I did miss Danny Burstein, which I'm sure affected the quality.

Joe Mayo
Understudy
joined:7/28/19
Understudy
joined:
7/28/19
In defense of Tootsie#2
Posted: 10/21/19 at 11:39am

Allen S Bishop said: "I was in town over the weekend for three shows, somewhat ironically, all previously movies: Moulin Rouge, Mean Girls, and Tootsie. Media and reviews determine expectations these days for most people and I admit I am not immune. So I had the lowest expectations for Tootsie even though I knew I was seeing a Tony award winning actor (whose star is on the rise). And it blew me away. Santino Fontana was EXCELLENT but the supporting cast was every bit as good. I haven't seen anything as funny since The Play That Goes Wrong, but of course this is a different kind of humor. Loved David Yazbek's creative and clever score, too.

So I wonder why it hasn't caught fire? Am I in the minority or have Broadway tastes just changed so much that Tootsie, a typical style show from years past, is now unusual and under appreciated? Would love to see more of these kinds of mature and sincerely funny musicals.

On the other hand, Moulin Rouge, which has hype through the roof, was just OK in my opinion. I did miss Danny Burstein, which I'm sure affected the quality.
"

I had very similar reaction to yours.

I think house size has a lot to do with it. Put this in a 1000 seat house vs a 1500+ seat house and I think it would have made a big difference in buzz and sustainability. It seems to have come on a bit lately, but the house selection was a miss in my opinion.

zainmax
Broadway Star
joined:1/12/17
Broadway Star
joined:
1/12/17
In defense of Tootsie#3
Posted: 10/21/19 at 11:40am

Joe Mayo said: "Allen S Bishop said: "I was in town over the weekend for three shows, somewhat ironically, all previously movies: Moulin Rouge, Mean Girls, and Tootsie. Media and reviews determine expectations these days for most people and I admit I am not immune. So I had the lowest expectations for Tootsie even though I knew I was seeing a Tony award winning actor (whose star is on the rise). And it blew me away. Santino Fontana was EXCELLENT but the supporting cast was every bit as good. I haven't seen anything as funny since The Play That Goes Wrong, but of course this is a different kind of humor. Loved David Yazbek's creative and clever score, too.

So I wonder why it hasn't caught fire? Am I in the minority or have Broadway tastes just changed so much that Tootsie, a typical style show from years past, is now unusual and under appreciated? Would love to see more of these kinds of mature and sincerely funny musicals.

On the other hand, Moulin Rouge, which has hype through the roof, was just OK in my opinion. I did miss Danny Burstein, which I'm sure affected the quality.
"

I had very similar reaction to yours.

I think house sizehas a lot to do with it. Put this in a 1000 seat house vs a 1500+ seat house and I think it would have made a big difference in buzz and sustainability. It seems to have come on a bit lately, but the house selection was a miss in my opinion.
"

I agree but it might have been the few houses available at the time.

Very funny show, though!

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haterobics
Broadway Legend
joined:3/29/14
Broadway Legend
joined:
3/29/14
In defense of Tootsie#4
Posted: 10/21/19 at 11:44am

I think it does everything you need a Tootsie musical to do... which then makes you realize you didn't need a Tootsie musical?

Also, I think the switch from a TV soap opera to a Broadway musical made the story weaker, since something happening on live TV has an exponential impact over anything that happens onstage

It did reinforce that Santino is a top notch talent, though.

Jarethan
Broadway Legend
joined:2/10/11
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In defense of Tootsie#5
Posted: 10/21/19 at 1:14pm
IMO it would be a great comedy, but the music and choreography make it a mediocre show. I found myself almost
getting angry because the score was letting it down...I was watching a musical where I didn’t want them to open their mouths to sing. Not good IMO.
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msmp
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joined:2/6/18
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In defense of Tootsie#6
Posted: 10/21/19 at 5:03pm

haterobics said: "I think it does everything you need a Tootsie musical to do... which then makes you realize you didn't need a Tootsie musical?

Also, I think the switch from a TV soap opera to a Broadway musical made the story weaker, since something happening on live TV has an exponential impact over anything that happens onstage

It did reinforce that Santino is a top notch talent, though.
"

Agreed that the restaging was a misfire. But I think the biggest problem with Tootsie remains that the score is pretty weak, and the only really memorable number from it (for me, at least) is a top-of-act-one number from a supporting character ("I Know What's Gonna Happen"In defense of Tootsie.

jagman1062
Stand-by
joined:7/25/19
Stand-by
joined:
7/25/19
In defense of Tootsie#7
Posted: 10/21/19 at 5:26pm

Jarethan said: "IMO it would be a great comedy, but the music and choreography make it a mediocre show. I found myself almost
getting angry because the score was letting it down...I was watching a musical where I didn’t want them to open their mouths to sing. Not good IMO.
"

I agree.  I thought there were some very funny lines and Fontana and most of the featured cast were great.  I wasn't getting angry with the score, but I was really disappointed with it.  It was unremarkable and didn't support the show well.  The cheesy choreography, sets, and costumes didn't help the show as well.  The movie succeeded because it was a comedy and as a play, it would have benefited without the score and choreography.  Some numbers sounded so much like ones from Women on the Verge... that I wished I was back in the Belasco seeing that show.  I thought the show was fun, but not compelling theater, but then again, it is Tootsie.

Updated On: 10/21/19 at 05:26 PM
AllThatJazz2
Leading Actor
joined:6/15/17
Leading Actor
joined:
6/15/17
In defense of Tootsie#8
Posted: 10/21/19 at 6:16pm
The one general gripe my friends had with it was that the music was lackluster, and it would have been a great comedic play. It was an enjoyable night out, to be sure, and Santino was awesome, but the music was unmemorable.
yankeefan7
Broadway Legend
joined:4/14/12
Broadway Legend
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In defense of Tootsie#9
Posted: 10/21/19 at 6:48pm

"Also, I think the switch from a TV soap opera to a Broadway musical made the story weaker, since something happening on live TV has an exponential impact over anything that happens onstage"

Exactly !! The reveal happening on a live TV show with millions of views is a lot more dramatic than being done in front of a thousand people at most.

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Sauja
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joined:1/7/07
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In defense of Tootsie#10
Posted: 10/21/19 at 7:51pm
I’m with others here. I found it totally enjoyable and brilliantly cast with a serviceable score. Enjoyed it sincerely without loving it but understand people who did adore it AND people who were disappointed. Still think Sarah Styles was robbed of her rightful Tony.
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Mister Matt
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joined:5/17/03
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In defense of Tootsie#11
Posted: 10/21/19 at 9:48pm
I loved the show, especially the score, which hooked me from the start. Saw it twice in Chicago and couldn't get the tunes out of my head.
"What can you expect from a bunch of seitan worshippers?" - Reginald Tresilian
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Skip23
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joined:1/9/16
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joined:
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In defense of Tootsie#12
Posted: 10/21/19 at 10:48pm

Apart from the totally forgettable music and insipid choreography and ugly sets and changing the milleu from TV to a stupid Broadway show, one of my big disappointments with TOOTSIE was in the character of Michael and the casting of the role.  Hoffman's Tootsie persona was the somewhat schlubby loser who becomes the butterfly while in successful drag.  That was a huge part of the fun of the movie.  Loser into winner.  Fontana is so strong and competent from the beginning that we never get to be surprised or delighted by his newfound success.  I never got that he was struggling, just that he was difficult.  And when he transformed, all I could think of was: he would never dress in such ugly outfits.  

 

and there's also the Jewish angle of the movie.  (sorry PC'ers)  Hoffman played straight Michael as an annoying Jewish guy.  That's a whole extra aspect of the character that was completely thrown out in the stage show.  It takes away from the fun.  It's almost a historical persona that works often onstage.  Pseudolus in FORUM, Vandergelder in DOLLY, of course Bialystock in PRODUCERS.  There's a rhythm and outlook that was missing from stage TOOTSIE.  

 

Fire away.

 

 

Wayman_Wong
Broadway Legend
joined:4/22/04
Broadway Legend
joined:
4/22/04
In defense of Tootsie#13
Posted: 10/22/19 at 12:48am

''The switch from a TV soap opera to a Broadway musical made the story weaker''

One of my big problems with ''Tootsie'' the musical is that it asks us to believe that Michael Dorsey could pull off his deception without tipping off ANYONE BACKSTAGE, including his dressers. 

Also, at the time of the movie's original release in 1982, it was easier to accept ''Tootsie'' as a cross-dressing comedy about a desperate actor. In 2019, against a backdrop of ''MeToo,'' it's harder to root for a self-centered straight guy who feels entitled to essentially take away a role from an actress equally deserving of work.

Updated On: 10/22/19 at 12:48 AM
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uncageg
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joined:5/13/04
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In defense of Tootsie#14
Posted: 10/22/19 at 12:54am

Wayman_Wong said: "''The switch from a TV soap opera to a Broadway musical made the story weaker''

One of my big problems with ''Tootsie'' the musical is that it asks us to believe that Michael Dorsey could pull off his deception without tipping off ANYONE BACKSTAGE, including his dressers.
"

I saw the movie when it first came out. Wouldn't this also be the case with his dressers in the soap opera?

The show has its flaws but it is great fun. Sometimes you have to put aside some of the little things and just roll with it. This show made me laugh a lot. I came out smiling. The performances were wonderful. It is just a great fun night at the theater. And we can all use a good laugh right now!

 

Just give the world Love.
Wayman_Wong
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joined:4/22/04
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In defense of Tootsie#15
Posted: 10/22/19 at 1:05am

''I saw the movie when it first came out. Wouldn't this also be the case with his dressers in the soap opera?''

It's been so long since I've seen the movie, but I thought there was a reference to how Dorothy liked to do her own makeup in private (thereby exposing herself to fewer people). But if you're in a musical, often changing clothes throughout a show, it seems like that kind of deception would be tougher to hide.

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Miles2Go2
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joined:8/10/17
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In defense of Tootsie#16
Posted: 10/22/19 at 1:08am

uncageg said: “The show has its flaws but it is great fun. Sometimes you have to put aside some of the little things and just roll with it. This show made me laugh a lot. I came out smiling. The performances were wonderful. It is just a great fun night at the theater. And we can all use a good laugh right now!"

Amen! 

bear88
Broadway Star
joined:4/26/16
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In defense of Tootsie#17
Posted: 10/22/19 at 2:00am

It was the show we saw the night we arrived. I wanted to see something light after a long flight and a rush to the theater, and this worked for me overall. It's flawed in a variety of ways that others have mentioned - unmemorable score (with one exception), climactic scene that didn't work for me. But other aspects of the show, even the dated plot and sitcom style, was so well executed by the cast that I had no complaints. It's a comedy. I laughed. That's no small thing.

chrishuyen
Leading Actor
joined:11/12/14
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In defense of Tootsie#18
Posted: 10/22/19 at 9:27pm

I don't want to derail the thread too much, but out of curiosity how many people who thought the score was weak have listened to it since seeing the show?  Don't get me wrong, I absolutely agree that the music was the weakest part of the show when I saw it (and it's rare that the book of a musical shines so much), but listening to the cast recording after it came out a few months later I was surprised at how much I enjoyed the songs a second time around.  I'm not quite saying it's the score of the century or anything, but I did find a lot more nuance in it outside of seeing it, though I'm not familiar with David Yazbek outside of Band's visit so I'm not sure how it compares to his other work.

Tootsie was definitely a highlight for me this past season, but I also think a huge failing of it is the ending, where it's left rather open-ended and doesn't quite give a sense of closure.  And I believe someone mentioned it in a different thread, but having the reveal take place during the Tony Awards would have upped the ante quite a bit.

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ModernMillie3
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joined:9/23/13
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In defense of Tootsie#19
Posted: 10/22/19 at 9:31pm

I have! Yes, I loved Tootsie so much, deeply funny, very creative. But, it was the one Cast recording in the past year I did not immediately download after getting home from the show. Then, I thought more about it, and decided to get it a few weeks ago. The more and more I listen to it, the more enjoyable and memorable it is. Funny how that seems to happen from time to time, yeah? 

woeisme3
Featured Actor
joined:9/14/15
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In defense of Tootsie#20
Posted: 10/22/19 at 9:52pm
I completely agree. Much of the score grew on me and I liked many of the songs a lot better when I saw it the second time.
SouthernCakes
Broadway Star
joined:7/29/19
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In defense of Tootsie#21
Posted: 10/22/19 at 10:36pm
I don’t see Santino doing anything 50 other actors couldn’t do. Love to see a true character actor take on the role.

The set and direction are boring.
BroadwayBrat
Stand-by
joined:11/29/04
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In defense of Tootsie#22
Posted: 10/22/19 at 11:59pm

AllThatJazz2 said: "The one general gripe my friends had with it was that the music was lackluster, and it would have been a great comedic play. It was an enjoyable night out, to be sure, and Santino was awesome, but the music was unmemorable."

I thought the same thing.   So funny as a play, but the music was not very good. The jokes, Santino, and the cast were GREAT! 

Jarethan
Broadway Legend
joined:2/10/11
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In defense of Tootsie#23
Posted: 10/23/19 at 2:03am

ModernMillie3 said: "I have! Yes, I loved Tootsie so much, deeply funny, very creative. But, it was the one Cast recording in the past year I did not immediately download after getting home from the show. Then, I thought more about it, and decided to get it a few weeks ago. The more and more I listen to it, the more enjoyable and memorable it is. Funny how that seems to happen from t

 

I am not sure I buy that argument.  Tickets are too expensive to recommend a show whose score a lot of people thought sucked when they heard it in the theatre.   
 

After reading an earlier post, I realize that The Band’s Visit is the only Yasbek musical I have seen where  I did not feel the Music was the weakest part of the show.  This includes ..Tootsie, .Scoundrels and The Full Monty.  I did not see Woman on the  Verge, and I can’t remember what else he did.  Full Monty and Scoundrels had more pluses to me than Tootsie.  

Updated On: 10/23/19 at 02:03 AM
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ModernMillie3
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joined:9/23/13
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In defense of Tootsie#24
Posted: 10/23/19 at 3:33am

Lucky for you you don't need to "buy" my argument, which is simply an opinion. Thanks. 

Owen22
Broadway Legend
joined:2/24/11
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In defense of Tootsie#25
Posted: 10/23/19 at 4:43am

chrishuyen said: "I don't want to derail the thread too much, but out of curiosity how many people who thought the score was weak have listened to it since seeing the show? Don't get me wrong, I absolutely agree that the music was the weakest part of the show when I saw it (and it's rare that the book of a musical shines so much), but listening to the cast recording after it came out a few months later I was surprised at how much I enjoyed the songs a second time around. I'm not quite saying it's the score of the century or anything, but I did find a lot more nuance in it outside of seeing it, though I'm not familiar with David Yazbek outside of Band's visit so I'm not sure how it compares to his other work.

Tootsie was definitely a highlight for me this past season, but I also think a huge failing of it is the ending, where it's left rather open-ended and doesn't quite give a sense of closure. And I believe someone mentioned it in a different thread, but having the reveal take place during the Tony Awards would have upped the ante quite a bit.
"

 

A Broadway score is likely to always sound better the second time you hear it which can only explain why I just saw Amelie again in England and enjoyed the score way more than I did when I saw in New York...