Review: 'Tootsie' is a Witty and Winning Musical

by Jason St. Amand

National News Editor

Saturday October 1, 2022
Originally published on September 30, 2022

The cast of the National Tour of "Tootsie."
The cast of the National Tour of "Tootsie."  (Source:Evan Zimmerman for MurphyMade)

There's no shortage of beloved films from the 80s and 90s (and now even 2000s!) being transformed into glossy Broadway musicals. It's a crowd-pleasing formula and it works with "Tootsie," the 2019 Broadway hit based on the 1982 Sydney Pollack comedy starring Dustin Hoffman, Jessica Lange, Bill Murray, and Teri Garr.

Playing at the Hanover Theater in Worcester, Mass., the story is updated to present day while having a similar plot. Hoffman's Michael Dorsey was an out-of-work actor who eventually becomes a famous soap star. Here, the hotheaded Michael (Drew Becker) is 40-year-old aspiring theater actor who has earned a terrible reputation in the biz. He's difficult; constantly wanting to rewrite material to fit his characters' authentic truth, burning bridges in the industry while doing so. With nowhere else to go but up, he decides to audition for a role his ex-girlfriend Sandy (Payton Reilly) tried out for — by getting into drag and taking the name Dorothy Michaels.

The part is for a "Romeo and Juliet" sequel where Juliet survives the tragic ending of Shakespeare's iconic play. Dorothy is cast Juliet's nurse but her charm and chemistry with the cast (including with its star Julie, played by Ashley Alexandra) quickly propel her into stardom and her career soon takes off but not without its problems; hijinks ensues.

From its opening number to its rousing finish, "Tootsie" keeps up a brisk pace and doesn't lose momentum, thanks to music and lyrics by David Yazbek. Though there might not be a big show-stopping moment, many of the songs are incredibly catchy, most notably "Unstoppable." With a book from writer Robert Horn, the show gets a needed update, which comes with a dose of wokeness. Sometimes it works and other times it's a bit cringe, but it's never too much that it gets in the way.

"Tootsie" is winning and witty and a completely enjoyable musical that achieves exactly what it needs to. With a charming cast, it's hard not to find yourself having a good time.

"Tootsie" continues through October 2 at the Hanover Theater in Worcester, Mass.