By Barry Reszel
Don’t confuse Tootsie the musical with Tootsie the 1982 Sydney Pollack-directed film starring Dustin Hoffman.
And given the film’s success then (10 Oscar noms and a bunch more accolades) and popularity 35+ years later (especially in the theatrical community), that is a huge compliment.
This most recent of the movies in late baby boomers’ halls of fame to be transformed into a Broadway musical, an exhaustive list is here, Tootsie gets it right. With a contemporary book re-write by first-time playwright Robert Horn, this Tootsie is everything a Broadway musical-comedy should be. The bitingly smart, hilarious book is supplemented by a songbook with lyrics of equal wit and tunes that keep the story moving at a quick pace. Quite simply, this is a Chicago tryout of a work nearly ready for New York’s brightest lights.
Extraordinary Director Scott Ellis keeps the pace quick, leading his star, Santino Fontana (Prince Charming in the most recent Broadway Cinderella), in a phenomenal performance as Michael Dorsey/Dorothy Michaels. His gorgeous voice is supplemented by quick comic timing. And that’s important, because Tootsie is primarily a a load of laughs, and Fontana’s supporting cast is loaded with comedic talent. Three in particular help seal this production’s comedic genius. Lilli Cooper is the lovely young Broadway actress, Julie Nichols, starring in a musical sendup to Romeo and Juliet. Sarah Stiles is the frenetically neurotic actress friend, Sandy Lester, who is simply all that. Andy Grotelueschen, Michael’s roommate and best friend, Jeff Slater, is the perfect “I told you so” foil.
Broadway in Chicago presents “Tootsie” through October 14 at the Cadillac Palace Theatre, 151 W. Randolph Street, Chicago. More information and tickets are available here. Photos by Julieta Cervantes.