Review: TOOTSIE THE COMEDY MUSICAL at Van Wezel

Tootsie: The Comedy Musical is a 2018 Broadway musical that brings a fresh new feel to the original storyline.

By: Feb. 14, 2023
Review: TOOTSIE THE COMEDY MUSICAL at Van Wezel
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Hard to believe it's been 40 years since the film Tootsie made its movie premiere starring Dustin Hoffman as temperamental Michael Dorsey, an unemployed actor resorting to desperate measures to find work. Tootsie: The Comedy Musical is a 2018 Broadway musical that brings a fresh new feel to the original storyline.

When self-centered Michael finds himself fired by his agent and chastised by directors and casting agents who can't stand him, he casts himself in the role of a lifetime, playing a woman he names Dorothy Michaels. Disguised as a woman, he finally lands his dream job and becomes a star but for how long can this ruse last?

The madness begins when Michael (Drew Becker) hears audition plans mentioned by his ex-girlfriend Sandy Lester (Payton Reilly) for the part of "Nurse" in a tacky Shakespearean-inspired musical titled Juliet's Curse. Desperate for work, Michael begins his journey as Dorothy Michaels and shows up for the audition - wig, dress, make-up, heels, and a lot of chutzpah. Although male chauvinist director Ron Carlisle (Adam du Plessis) recognizes an oddly familiar distaste for her, Dorothy captures the attention of the wealthy female producer Rita Marshall (Kathy Halenda) who admires her tenacity for standing up against the cheesball director and appreciates Dorothy's creative input into the production.

Now that Michael has finally found success albeit a lie under the guise of Dorothy, all he has to do now is keep his real identity under wraps from the cast and crew. Simple right? Not so much. Soon he finds himself falling in love with his co-star Julie Nichols who plays Juliet (Ashley Alexandra). That kiss on the lips he let slip not only confused Julie but now has her attracted to Dorothy.

But wait. There's more! The attractive but vacuous hunk of the show Max Van Horn (Matthew Rella) also falls for Dorothy too, even though she is "built like a tractor and sturdy", his love drives him to sear a huge tattoo of Dorothy on his muscle-ripped chest. The tangled web Michael has weaved taking on the Dorothy persona has his playwright roommate Jeff Slater (Jared David Michael Grant) sometimes laughing at the mayhem and sometimes concerned about how the whole ordeal is going to end.

As Dorothy, Drew Becker is up to the challenge of filling Dorothy's heels. He is surprisingly poised in those heels and delivers a robust performance as both Michael and Dorothy. Ashley Alexandra is a dynamic actress whose voice is as sweet and complex as the character she plays. Talented and comedic Payton Reilly's "What's Gonna Happen" patter songs will make you gasp for air. How does she remember all those lyrics let alone sing them with ease at the speed of light? Jared David Michael Grant wears the best facial expressions in the show and delivers the funniest song in this production "Jeff Sums It Up". The cast as a whole works so well together with impeccable timing and shine in clever costuming before silhouette set designs of New York.

I do feel Tootsie was a tad too long and dragged here and there, especially in Act l. The pace in Act 11 picked up and stayed true to the original ending of the film. Audiences who enjoy Broadway extravaganza-type performances will love this show peppered with call-outs and theatre insider innuendoes galore. Tootsie is quick-paced, quick-witted, and fun to watch.

Tootsie is staged at the Van Wezel from February 13-15, 2023. For tickets and more information visit www.VanWezel.org.

Tootsie fans check out www.tootsiemusical.com.




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