- TOOTSIE – the Musical
- Starlight Theater
- Kansas City, Missouri
While men often played female characters in the time of Shakespeare, it didn’thappen a lot in the late 20th Century. Then came the 1982 film “Tootsie” which is often regarded as one of the funniest films ever. The story: Michael Dorsey is an actor who overthinks everything, from the smallest stage direction to the back story he has created for a character. His reputation is such that he can’t find a job. Until one day he puts on a dress and some makeup and is hired as an actress. The rest, as the saying goes, is history.
Michael Dorsey (an excellent Drew Becker) is celebrating his 40th birthday with his two closest friends, former girlfriend Sandy (Payton Reilly) and his roommate Jeff (Jared David Michael Grant). He is also celebrating his being fired from another show. As he works with Sandy for an upcoming audition she has, he bemoans the fact that people don’t understand his talents. When his agent tells him that no one will hire “him” he auditions for the role Sandy was up for and gets the job. And the fireworks begin.
It’s had to believe that four decades after it premiered the ordeals of women working in male dominated roles continue. As newly cast Dorothy Michaels, Michael has to deal with the sexism that exists in pretty much every aspect of his chosen profession. However, that doesn’t stop “Dorothy” from interjecting her ideas into the new show – a musical based on the story of Romeo and Juliet, with Juliet survivng and falling for Romeo’s brother, Craig – from updating the time period to changing the costumes. However, where Michael’s input would be seen as meddling, “Dorothy” has the support of the show’s femiale producer and soon the show is built around her.
“Tootsie – the Musical” won the Tony Award for its book, and deservedly so. The story is altered enough from the film that it seems fresh, combining the best jokes from the film with some hilarious new bits. The songs are well constructed and move the story along.
The show is well cast, with Mr. Becker pulling double duty as Michael/Dorothy. Not only does he have to speak as both characters, but he has to sing also. He is able to make both characters come to life as if you are watching two different performers. Comedically the standouts were Mr. Grant as Jeff and Adam Du Plessis as Ron, the show director.
“Tootise – the Musical” continues in Kansas City through Sunday, May 21. For tickets to these performances, or future shows on the tour, please click HERE.