“Tootsie” previews success on Broadway


The logo for the musical, performing at Chicago’s Cadillac Palace Theater (goldstar.com).

Liz Gremer, Reporter

The newest adaptation of “Tootsie” hit the Cadillac Palace Theater in Chicago stage on Sept. 11, and has been applauded for its modern take on the 1982 movie. Although the story adjusts some aspects to match the times, the story remains the same: a struggling actor disguises himself as a woman in order to receive work in the competitive world of entertainment.

Michael Dorsey (Santino Fontana) and the ensemble open the show rehearsing for a musical directed by the famous Ron Carlisle (Reg Rogers). However, Dorsey curses out Carlisle for his choices concerning the musical. After this fit, Carlisle fires him and blacklists him in the  broadway business. Years later, Dorsey still struggles getting gigs because of his temperament, and has to work as a waiter along with his struggling, writer best friend Jeff (Andy Grotelueschen) in order to make a living.

At Dorsey’s 40th birthday party, fellow actor Sandy (Sarah Stiles) comes to Dorsey for help for an audition she has for the Romeo and Juliet spin-off  “Juliet’s Curse.” He becomes inspired while helping her with her lines, and Dorsey decides to disguise himself as a woman and audition for the role. After an astounding audition, he is cast in the role. However, following the first day of rehearsals, he discovers the show is uninspired and vows to make sure that it does not flop. During the show’s production, Dorsey subsequently falls for leading lady Julie Nichols (Lilli Cooper), which is when things become complicated for the actor.

Although I was acquainted with the original movie prior to seeing the musical adaptation, I was curious to see how closely it would follow. The world has drastically changed since the movie was first released. Between the Anthony Scalia and iPhone references, the show actively puts out 2018 hints to remind the audience that it is not 1982, but 2018 instead. Personally, I believe that the show lost some of its original charm with its changes, but the story still holds up.

Before its spring 2019 Broadway debut, the show came to Chicago, similar to many other Broadway shows do. The purpose of the show previewing in Chicago was to work out the weak points and prepare for the show’s future. It was a wise decision for the cast and crew to come out to Chicago, pre-Broadway, because they still have adjustments to make to the first and last 10 minutes of the show. The opening number needs the most adjustment, as it is confusing to follow. The lack of clarity in the introduction caused confusion to my friend and I, but the show gradually flowed better.

The most impressive part of the show lies among the cast. Santino Fontana shines as Michael Dorsey, and is the obvious show-stealer. While maintaining quick wit, he also adds a dimension to the character that Dustin Hoffman failed to do in the original movie. In addition to Fontana’s delightful performance, Sarah Stiles and Andy Grotelueschen also offered entertaining renditions of their characters.

While the show still has obvious hiccups to work out before the transition to Broadway, it is clear that it will be successful. The story is different, and the actor’s performances are what solidify the show.  In addition, the show offers a commentary on the current issues of our world today, and accomplishes this while, providing laughs to a ranging audience.