Tootsie, which opens tonight at the Marquis Theatre, tells the story of a talented but difficult actor who struggles to find work until one show-stopping act of desperation lands him the role of a lifetime – as the star of a new Broadway musical.
TOOTSIE features an original score by Tony Award-winner David Yazbek (The Bands Visit, The Full Monty, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels), a book by Robert Horn(13; Dame Edna, Back with a Vengeance), choreography by Tony Award nominee Denis Jones (Holiday Inn, Honeymoon in Vegas), and music direction by Andrea Grody (The Bands Visit). Tootsie will be directed by eight-time Tony Award nominee and Olivier Award winner Scott Ellis (She Loves Me, On the Twentieth Century).
The company is led by Tony Award nominee Santino Fontana as Michael Dorsey, Lilli Cooper as Julie Nichols, Tony Award nomineeSARAH STILES as Sandy Lester, John Behlmann as Max Van Horn, Andy Grotelueschen as Jeff Slater, Julie Halston as Rita Marshall, Tony Award winner Michael McGrath as Stan Fields, and Tony Award nominee Reg Rogers as Ron Carlisle.
Jesse Green, The New York Times: Comedy rarely flows as smoothly as it does here. The secret is more than the book; its the songs. Mr. Yazbek is one of the few composer-lyricists working today who can set jokes to music and make them pay. The most obvious instance in “Tootsie” is “Whats Gonna Happen,” a showstopping patter number for Michaels ex-girlfriend, the neurotic Sandy (Sarah Stiles). In a tumble of words reminiscent of “Model Behavior” from Mr. Yazbeks underrated score for “Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown,” she goes well past that verge.
Adam Feldman, Time Out New York: The most glorious words in the English language, the director of the show-within-a-show in 42nd Street once declared, are musical comedy. But few musicals on Broadway these days live up to the second part of that term: They evoke fond chuckles of appreciation, but they dont suck the laughs from your belly. Enter Tootsie, all dolled up in a red sequined gown, to drag out the real comic goods. Let other shows mope or brood or inspire, as some of them do very well. This one is out to give you a good time, and thats just what it does. Tootsie rocks. Tootsie rolls. Tootsie pops.
Robert Hofler, TheWrap: The good news is that book writer Robert Horn has not pulled a “Pretty Woman” and simply transcribed a screenplay, in this case, the Oscar-nominated 1982 script by Larry Gelbart, Murray Schisgal and many uncredited writers. Equally good, Horn supplies a few one-liners that are every bit as funny as the movies zingers.
Erin Strecker, Mashable: Happily, this thoroughly modern update is a genuine thrill, mostly thanks to Robert Horns smart book, which excises a lot of the more cringe-y aspects on the original comedy, and instead invites audiences to laugh at Michael Dorsey. The show begins with Michael interrupting the opening number to complain about his characters motivation, for goodness sake! Packed with jokes, the show is completely ridiculous, but it totally works.
David Rooney, The Hollywood Reporter: The ace creative team of writer Robert Horn, composer-lyricist David Yazbek and director Scott Ellis respect the footprint of the movie. But the explosions of laughter the musical elicits come chiefly from the ingenious ways in which the screenplay by Larry Gelbart and Murray Shisgal – plus the countless other hired hands that took a pass during the films famously difficult conception – has been reimagined as a subversive comedy about gender roles specifically tailored for our times. And no, dont roll your eyes and wince about another gem from a less enlightened decade sacrificing its luster to anxious PC tampering. This is a savvy update that manages to combine awareness of the evolution in gender politics with insouciant wit, a playful spirit and an invigorating streak of good-natured vulgarity.
Tim Teeman, The Daily Beast: Tootsie as a musical is a confusing mélange, and not for the sexual and romantic attractions and farce-heavy confusions it sets in motion by lead character Michael Dorseys (Santino Fontana) cross-dressing. The Broadway version of the 1982 movie-which starred Dustin Hoffman as Michael Dorsey/Dorothy Michaels-is both chaotic and apologetic, with a sharper and better book than it has music.
Marilyn Stasio, Variety: Robert Horn (book) and Tony-winner David Yazbek (score) have a high old time poking fun at theatrical rituals – the mortifying auditions, the grueling rehearsals, the agonizing openings, the backstage heartbreak – in this affectionate sendup of a Broadway musical (replacing the movies soap opera setting) and its uniquely unlikely star. Director Scott Ellis leaves nothing and no one unscathed in staging this satire of a Broadway-bound musical called “Juliets Nurse.” From the gaudy Renaissance costumes (by William Ivey Long) to the over-the-top choreography (from Denis Jones), the creatives nail it.
Peter Travers, Rolling Stone: Lets hear it for Tootsie, the laugh-out-loud funniest musical of the Broadway season. Yes, its another tune-filled spin on a hit movie – Pretty Woman, King Kong, the list goes on. But this one is actually good – hell, better than good, its musical-comedy heaven. Using the beloved 1982 movie with Dustin Hoffman as a launching pad, the singing-dancing Tootsie still features an unemployed asshole of an actor who has to dress up as a woman to land a part. But the films casual sexism (it celebrates a dude who finds himself) has been updated for the #MeToo era, going from retro to woke and slamming the door on patrimony with a mighty Times Up.
Greg Evans, Deadline: Youll have just enough time during the false-start opening moments of director Scott Ellis wonderful new Tootsie to ponder such things, and then the musical and its star Santino Fontana grab hold and dont let go. Its not without a few runs in its stockings, but this Tootsie is a delight, a not-quite-blind date that plays out so much better than you could have imagined.
Alexis Soloski, The Guardian: The songs are peppy, if not especially remarkable, somewhat in the vein of Yazbeks earlier shows like Dirty Rotten Scoundrels and Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown. Theres nothing as swoony as Omar Sharif here. But Yazbek shows his gift for writing for character, with Sandys high-anxiety Whats Gonna Happen and Jeffs dry, cackling Jeff Sums It Up. A lot of Horns jokes are groaners, but some of them arent and the script is packed with so many that the laughs-per-minute ratio stays pretty high. The cast is a treat, particularly the supporting actors, whose characters are written more playfully and at times more cogently than Michael or Julie, though Fontana is working overtime, backwards and forwards, in heels and out, to make Dorothy more than a caricature and Michael more than a jerk. Hes even found a distinct singing voice for Dorothy, a fleecy contralto.
Steven Suskin, New York Stage Review: Is this a potential addition to the list of classic Broadway musicals? No; but Tootsie is fast and funny. Very funny, with a rapid stream of jokes and gags and some of the most mirthful choreography since those Mormon boys went to Uganda. Plus, its got no fewer than five skillful comedy performances. After months in the mirthless Broadway musical desert, lets be appreciative of the evenings accomplishments.
Melissa Rose Bernardo, New York Stage Review: Tootsie is full of terrific moments: Yazbeks delightfully pessimistic lyrics (one song repeats the line “you fucked it up,” to great effect); supporting turns from the sidesplittingly funny Sarah Stiles as hopelessly insecure neighbor Sandy (“My phone no longer recognizes my face I.D. unless Im crying!”) and perennial scene-stealer Julie Halston as producer Rita, über-chic in an Ann Richards-white wig and a brocade Jackie O-inspired suit (“Dorothy, Im rich. Not in family or friends. In money, the good rich”); lush-and magically magnetic-costumes by William Ivey Long (they go from the Renaissance to 1950s Cinecittà glam with a mere twirl of a skirt); and, most important, a genuinely believable, winning performance by Fontana, whos so darn convincing as Dorothy that when he starts to sing as Michael it simply sounds wrong.
Matt Windman, amNY: The writers deserve some credit for not blindly following the film and making changes to the setting and dialogue in an attempt to better suit it to a new medium, but the resulting product is substandard.
Breanne L. Heldman, Entertainment Weekly: All that said, the show is damn funny. The book, by Robert Horn, is jammed with laugh-out-loud one-liners, and Scott Ellis direction allows those moments, and many others, to shine. The score, by Tony winner David Yazbek (The Bands Visit), and choreography by Denis Jones are light and lively. And William Ivey Longs costumes, including his recreation of Dustin Hoffmans iconic red sequined dress from the movie, are gorgeous, clever, and fresh.
Charles McNulty, Los Angeles Times: “Tootsie,” the new Broadway musical by David Yazbek (music and lyrics) and Robert Horn (book) that opened Tuesday at the Marquis Theatre, is a marvel of movie-to-musical reinvention. As much an update as it is an adaptation, the show acknowledges that gender politics have undergone significant changes in the last four decades while embracing what makes this loony tale still so much fun today. But what really stands out is the wit. This “Tootsie” yields more laughs per minute than any musical since “The Book of Mormon.” Yazbek and Horn are like Woody Allen in the early days, only campier and completely besotted with Broadway.
Peter Marks, The Washington Post: This embraceably funny concoction goes by the title of “Tootsie,” which also was the title of its eternally endearing 1982 film source, starring Dustin Hoffman as a temperamental actor so desperate for a part he disguises himself as a woman to get it. The mantle of Michael Dorsey/Dorothy Michaels has been passed down on this occasion to the sublime Santino Fontana, who not only gets to strut his farcical stuff, but also sings, amazingly well, in two registers.
Chris Jones, The NY Daily News: There really is much to like about “Tootsie.” Horns book is chock-a-block with digressive one-liners that tickled me pink when I first saw the show in Chicago and worked their magic all over again on Broadway. Dorsey, a pill who taunts directors with his ego, has a lovable deadpanning roommate, Jeff (Andy Grotelueschen) and a wacky best frenemy named Sandy (Sarah Stiles), and this boffo comedic pair, along with John Behlmanns clueless bit of beefcake, keep the laughs rolling.
Jonny Oleksinski, The NY Post: While Yazbeks jazzy score doesnt reach the heights of his work in “The Bands Visit,” there are a few really terrific numbers. You wont leave “Tootsie” humming, but you will leave laughing – which is even better.
Video: Tootsie Broadway Trailer