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Review: TOOTSIE at Washington Pavilion

Review: TOOTSIE at Washington Pavilion

The musical runs through February 4th.

TOOTSIE, the musical, a New York touring production at the Washington Pavilion, is a tight ensemble of actors and musicians presenting a somewhat modified story from the highly successful movie from 1982 that garnered a Best Supporting Actress award for Jessica Lange. Dustin Hoffman had a major comeback in this film and became the "stuff of legends" for his performance in the film. I tried to listen for the name "Tootsie" throughout the play, but ultimately had to resort to Google to find out why it was titled as such. Turns out the Working Title of the film was "Would I Lie To You?" but Dustin Hoffman "suggested" (right!, I can almost imagine that conversation) that they change the title to "TOOTSIE", which was the name of his mother's dog.

TOOTSIE the musical, opens with a beautifully executed overture by the orchestra, and then progresses with some clever work by the Ensemble. The sound mix on this show is impeccable and the designers and crew are to be commended. It's no easy task to do that in a hall as big as the Washington Pavilion's Mary Sommervold Hall. Most Broadway theater venues are a lot smaller than this hall.

Drew Becker as Michael Dorsey, soon to be Dorothy Michaels so he can land a role in a Broadway play, is vocally and physically on point and actually walks better in heels than I ever have, and makes every dress he wears as Dorothy look stylish and beautifully fitted.

Peyton Reilly as Sandy Lester is hilarious and delivers the paranoia and angst of a struggling actor in New York in her vocals of "What's Gonna Happen" with finesse and some impressive diction and speed.

Adam du Pleissis, delivers a stereotypical theatre director, full of bluster and vindictive petulance with some surprising nods to his dancing prowess. His moves may be caricature like, but there really is no way to execute them with such comic value without some actual skill and prowess in stage movement.

Jared David Michael Grant as Michaels roommate and best friend Jeff Slater has a tough role to fill in this production. He has to deliver deadpan, and sarcastic dialogue and still maintain the feeling for the audience that Michael is truly someone he cares about. Physically, he moves with a teenager's energy and flexibility, and vocally, he is a musical force in the few times he is afforded the opportunity to shine.

Rita Marshall, played by Kathy Halenda had all the qualities of that glorious, glamorous, rich, female producer, a little drunk on her own power, all instinct and chutzpah.

Matthew Rella, as Ron Carlisle certainly brings the combination of some purposely staged eye candy and comic awkwardness to a new level of hilarity in his performance as the vapid actor who falls for Dorothy (hormonally).

This production of Tootsie is a visual and audible treat for audiences at the Washington Pavilion. Get your tickets now by going online to or by calling the box office at 605-367-6000. There is a lot of winter left in South Dakota, do yourself a favor and find yourself at TOOTSIE at the Washington Pavilion.

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From This Author - Sonja Niles

Sonja Niles has 40 plus years in theatre performance and directing and has been a guest director throughout South Dakota and Montana. Sonja has performed in community theatres in Aberdeen, Watertow... (read more about this author)

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