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A Look At Tootsie The Musical 
The popular movie gets a dramatic makeover on stage, giving the musical its own identity
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  IT'S funny. It’s entertaining. It’s thought-provoking. It’s delightful. And it delivers a message that sometimes you might have to do something out of the ordinary to get what you want.
    It is Tootsie The Musical, now in its pre-Broadway world premiere at the Cadillac Palace Theatre through October 14, and it will land at New York’s Marquis Theatre in March.
    Inspired by the popular, award-winning movie starring Academy Award-winner Dustin Hoffman, Tootsie on stage gets a facelift that sets it apart from its 1982 film counterpart. With a book by Robert Horn, the musical combines humor with a degree of reality to highlight sexist behavior that women face every day. 
    Directed by seven-time Tony Award-nominee and Olivier Award-winner Scott Ellis, the musical features Tony Award-nominee Santino Fontana in the role of Michael Dorsey, a self-destructive, alienating, out-of-work actor who goes from audition to audition and not only gets turned down repeatedly, but he often hears producers and directors say, “Michael, you’re exactly what we are NOT looking for.” When one more potential opportunity arises for a highly sought-after role, he gives it one more try, knowing that he’ll have to do something drastic because the role is for a woman. So he boldly transforms into Dorothy Michaels, a straight-talking, speak-her-mind kind of woman who, in a takeoff on Romeo & Juliet, is seeking the nurse’s role––a role that she gets and it eventually launches Dorothy into stardom.
––Walter Leavy
In the world-premiere musical Tootsie, Santino Fontana (center), who portrays Dorothy Michaels, is joined by (left to right) Drew King, Leslie Donna Flesner, Sissy Bell and John Arthur Greene at the Cadillac Palace Theatre.
In the play, Fontana as Michael Dorsey returns home after his portrayal as Dorothy Michaels. The actor (below) takes a bow during the curtain call on opening night. 
Brett Beiner Photography
Photograph by Julieta Cervantes
Photograph by Julieta Cervantes
   Fontana, who is noted for providing the voice to the villainous “Prince Hans” in Disney’s Academy Award-winning animated feature Frozen, embraces the role and the necessary transformation to the point that he is more than a little bit convincing as a woman––in speech, mannerisms and by exhibiting the ability to skillfully handle a pair of shoes with a medium-high heel. When he appears as Dorothy, theatergoers forget all about Michael––and Santino. Costume designer William Ivey Long, makeup designer Angelina Avallone and hair and wig designer Paul Huntley worked effectively to turn Fontana into a believable Dorothy with the help of some padded undergarments and some colorful, glamorous outfits. 
   While molding the musical’s talent, director Ellis was able to bring out the best from a celebrated cast with lengthy individual résumés. Aside from Fontana, the performers include Lilli Cooper (Julie Nichols), Sarah Stiles (Sandy Lester), John Behlmann (Max Van Horn), Andy Grotelueschen (Jeff Slater), Julie Halston (Rita Marshall), Michael McGrath (Stan Fields) and Reg Rogers as lecherous director and Dorothy Michaels detractor Ron Carlisle. 
   The work of scenic designer David Rockwell offered more than a hint of Manhattan––inside and outside––with multiple, shifting and changing sets throughout the production, which is further enhanced with an original score by Tony Award-winner David Yazbek. From the opening scene, the music and choreography by Denis Jones are hand-in-hand, showcasing the extraordinary dancing abilities of an impressive ensemble.
   Tootsie The Musical isn’t Tootsie the movie. In its own less-than-subtle way, the musical makes some points about troubling issues facing women that are at the forefront and show up in the headlines with regularity today. While the two productions share some of the same elements, the musical––thanks to an injection of contemporary, real-life situations––has its own solid identity.
   Broadway is in for a real treat next spring. 

Tickets are available for groups of 10 or more by calling Broadway In Chicago Group Sales at (312) 977-1710. Tickets are available at all Broadway In Chicago box offices (24 W. Randolph Street; 151 W. Randolph Street; 18 W. Monroe Street and 175 E. Chestnut), the Broadway in Chicago Ticket Line at (800) 775-2000 and online at www.BroadwayInChicago.com.