The national touring production of Tootsie that opened at DPAC this past Tuesday night is a fun theatrical adaptation of the 1982 film. While the national views on gender stereotypes have certainly changed quite a bit since the early 8o’s, this updated production and more modern characters reflects these more current views.
The overall story revolves around Michael Dorsey (played by Drew Becker), a talented but somewhat pompous Broadway actor that finds himself blacklisted after being labeled as difficult on set. Out of work and struggling to find a new gig, in his desperation he decides to audition for a new play as a woman by transforming into “Dorothy Michael’s”. While this plan is initially successful, the ruse leads to a comedy of errors and misunderstandings that although funny at times, also leads to self-reflection. This is a show is a comedy for sure, but it does not shy away from the more serious and timely issues like what it means to be a woman in show business and how to be a better man.
Drew Becker is perfectly cast as Michael Dorsey/Dorothy Michaels. As a man his character comes off as a high-maintenance jerk while still being likeable. And when he transforms into playing a woman he is the person in the room everyone, man or woman wants to be friends with.
Ashley Alexandra is equally wonderful playing actress Julie Nichols in the play within the play. Her character exudes both strength and vulnerability. Her excellent singing and connection with the audience almost steals every scene she is in.
Supporting characters played by Jared David Michael Grant and Payton Reilly are true gems on stage in this production. Jared is terrific as Jeff Slater, Michael’s best friend and roommate who imparts inconvenient wisdom at every turn and scores some of the show’s best laughs, sometimes by saying absolutely nothing.
Payton, who plays Michael’s needy ex-girlfriend, Sandy Lester is loveable in her despair as an equally struggling actress who loses out on a plumb role to Michael’s “Dorothy”. Payton’s rendition of “What’s Gonna Happen,” which is repeated in increasingly shorter versions throughout the show is a fantastic and catchy song about how everything in her life goes wrong.
While Tootsie is indeed a comedy, the show does have its more serious moments near its conclusion once Michael starts looking at the world through Dorothy’s eyes and sees the error of his ways and the pain he has caused. And with that recognition comes understanding.
I found Tootsie to be a wonderfully funny production put on by a stellar cast. Don’t miss your chance to see it while it’s in town through this weekend!
Tootsie is playing now through Sunday, October 24th at DPAC. For tickets visit: https://www.dpacnc.com/events/detail/tootsie