Interview: Payton Reilly from TOOTSIE at The Playhouse

The musical is set to begin a 3 day run at The Playhouse on October 6.

By: Oct. 02, 2022
Interview: Payton Reilly from TOOTSIE at The Playhouse
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It was with some trepidation that I began my interview with Payton Reilly, star of TOOTSIE, the musical set to begin a 3 day run at The Playhouse on October 6. One of Payton's acting credits was an off Broadway production of WILD WOMEN OF PLANET WONGO. How does one prepare for this? Is there a language of Wongoise?

Payton quickly put me at ease. She spoke like a normal person. "The show was a hoot. During the week I did my day job. Weekends I was an alien."

It's difficult to believe that the iconic movie premiered way back when in 1982. Amy Watson Bish, Associate Director of Marketing for The Grand says that this will be the first time the musical has played in the region.

There's been a sea change since 1982, major tectonic adjustments in attitudes and what is appropriate and what is not. The writers have taken this into consideration the musical feels like a new story. The comedy in the show is driven by the dialogue and ridiculous situations, not seeing a man in a dress. The tour wants audiences to laugh at Michael (the Dustin Hoffman role) because he's a desperate actor with an inflated ego who makes bad decisions. While the situation and the many of the characters are the same as in the movie, the musical is not a scene-by-scene reenactment. The creative team has been very cognizant of the current cultural climate when writing the script, while still keeping the story funny, surprising, and entertaining. Bottom line is that the show is much more relevant to contemporary environment.

Payton plays Sandy, Michael's girlfriend. Sandy is quite the comedic character. She, too, aspires to become an actor. One can characterize Sandy as neurotic, anxious, pessimistic, childish and self-deprecating. (Other than that, she's just like you and me)! Her problem is that she's not a very good actor. Michael, on the other hand, is a fine actor. His epiphany comes when he determines that the best way to get a job is acting like a woman. Chaos ensues when Sandy enters Michael's apartment seeing wigs, makeup and all the accoutrements of his drag ensemble. "My God, you're a better woman than I am"!

Payton graduated from Western Michigan University with a degree in musical theatre performance. The lady knew what she wanted and began auditioning for Broadway roles immediately. This is her second national tour of TOOTSIE. It began in early October and ends in late July.

Sandy has a patter song that is reminiscent of the classic "Getting Married Today" from the Sondheim classic COMPANY. The tune is "I Know It's Gonna Happen". This is the greatest time of Payton's life. "The new cast members bring different takes on their characters than the first run. They have evolved into a type of Greek chorus. Even though I've played the part hundreds of times, it never gets old. Live theatre is a blessing". An amusing personal story. In 9th grade auditioned for Sandy in GREASE. She did not get it. She cried and cried and cried. Now her friends in her small home town say "Payton, you were cast as Sandy....finally"!

The original Broadway production was directed by multiple Tony award winner Scott Ellis. The score is by David Yazbek, who did the hilarious DIRTY ROTTEN SCOUNDRELS. The Washington Post commented that the show is so packed with punchlines, it should be called a 'jokebox' musical.

October 6-9 Tootsie | The Grand Opera House, Wilmington, DE (

800.37Grand 302.888.0200