Toostie The Musical is a clever undertaking that doesn’t let the audience down, review

Tootsie Broadway Tootsie Broadway 10360 Edit V002
Tootsie Broadway Tootsie Broadway 10360 Edit V002 /

As the audience’s anticipation grows for the first note from the orchestra, the notion of Dr. Phillips Center raising the curtain made Toostie The Musical even more enjoyable than its quick-witted one-liners and upbeat musical numbers. Just like Dorothy sings in one of the more memorable songs, this musical experience will not let the audience down.

After such a long hiatus, theater lovers longed for the communal experience of sitting on the edge of their seats and standing in gratitude at the end of the performance. For many theater fans, a night immersed in the melody and entranced by the choreography cannot be replaced by the screen.

Part of the National Tour, Toostie the Musical made its stop at Dr. Phillips Center. With various health and safety protocols in place, the audience welcomed the Tony Award-winning comedy with open arms. Although the musical version is based on the classic Dustin Hoffman movie, plot modifications have been made. The soap opera drama has been swapped for a modern version of Romeo and Juliet, Juliet’s Nurse.

Tootsie the Musical blends humor with poignant commentary

While a comedy at heart, the reality is that the biggest audience reactions come when the truth is mixed into humor. From the jab about Michael’s paycheck being cut because he has a “woman’s role” to the lack of listening when Dorothy expresses her thoughts, these moments are rooted in reality. In some ways, the humor makes people more willing to listen.

Although there is commentary woven into the story, the reality is that the thrust of the plot is the journey of people trying to find their way. As Michael learns that success under a disguise is hollow, he lifts those around him. They find that Dorothy’s message spurs them to make changes, push themselves and achieve goals.

On the other hand, Michael’s success comes at his demise. The reality is that putting on a wig only further buries his self-centered approach to success. When he is finally ready to peel back the layers of his shortcomings, he ditches the barrier and must start anew.

Drew Becker as Michael/Dorothy handles that dichotomy well. At one point self-assured and confident only to be slightly snarky and self-centered, his performance makes the audience yearn for him to finally see the light. With a sparkle of humor and a sense of longing, it is a performance that shines.

Jared David Michael Grant brings down the house with his perfect timing and delivery. Like Jeff, he says what everyone is thinking. That voice of reason keeps the audacity in check. His every man has the audience cheering for this happily ever after.

Toostie the Musical National Tour
Drew Becker as Michael Dorsey and Jared David Michael Grant as Jeff Slater in the National Tour of TOOTSIE. Photo by Evan Zimmerman for MurphyMade. /

The women are the glue that is the heart of this musical. From Ashley Alexandra as Julie and Payton Reilly as Sandy, these characters are standouts on the stage. With Reilly’s insanely fast rant in the opening act to Alexandra’s introspective journey of an actor’s life, these women make the audience long for their success.

As the first musical of the 2021-22 season, Dr. Phillips Center rightly choose a show that invites the audience into their seats that have sat empty for far too long. Even though there is an important message in the show, the fast-paced musical is a delight for both theater veterans as well as people longing for a night off the couch.

Toostie the Musical laughs at the musical theater as much as it celebrates it. In the vain of Something Rotten and Spamalot, the little digs and nuances bring back those special moments that theater fans have etched in their memories. A night at the theater is more than just a cacophony of notes, lyrics telling a story, and dancing traversing a stage. It is an experience shared by the stage and the audience and nothing can replace that.

Tootsie the Musical is currently playing Dr. Phillips Center in Orlando, Florida. It continues its National Tour with other stops across the U.S.

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