REVIEW: Tootsie the musical

Tootsie, the musical adaptation of the 1982 film, brings its own charm and humor to the Orpheum stage. While it delivers plenty of laughs, it falls short in certain areas, resulting in a somewhat flawed but still entertaining production.

Tootsie is a musical comedy that tells the story of Michael Dorsey, a talented but difficult actor struggling to find work in New York City. Frustrated by the industry’s prejudice against him, Michael decides to disguise himself as a woman named Dorothy Michaels and auditions for a popular soap opera. Surprisingly, he lands the role and becomes a sensation, creating chaos as he tries to navigate the challenges of being a woman while maintaining his true identity. Along the way, Michael/Dorothy forms unexpected friendships, finds love, and learns valuable lessons.

In view of the potentially “problematic” aspects of the plot in the modern era, Tootsie attempts to address important current themes of gender dynamics and identity. The humor, although generally well-received by the audience, occasionally ventures into clichéd territory, diluting the impact of its social commentary. A more nuanced approach to these themes could have elevated Tootsie’s impact and relevance.

Characters of this production were largely over-the-top characters reminiscent of 90s sitcoms, which some will find funny and other will find annoying. Julie Nichols (the love interest), played by Ashley Alexandra, had the only standout vocal performance. Additionally, her character was the only one who was not a caricature. As such, she stood out as a talent but also as being disjointed with the rest of the cast of zany characters.

Tootsie’s score, composed by David Yazbek, offers a mix of largely forgettable songs. While some numbers, like “What’s Gonna Happen,” successfully blend humor with catchy melodies, most others lack any level of impact. Although the songs effectively advance the plot, there are instances where they feel repetitive or fail to leave a lasting impression. Overall, I felt the musical adaptation was full of filler to get to a designated end time.

While Tootsie’s production design is visually appealing , it’s nothing special. The sets, while functional, lack a certain level of creativity and fail to fully immerse the audience in the story’s world. Similarly, the choreography, while energetic, lacks innovation and fails to leave a lasting impression.

Overall, I believe this show would have been better executed as an hour and a half play instead of a full length 2.5 hour long musical.

Tootsie is at the Orpheum Theatre in Minneapolis through June 25, 2023. Tickets start at $40.

In-person Student/Educator rush will be available for all performances of Tootsie :
• $30 cash only
• 2 ticket limit per valid Student/Educator ID
• Starts 2 hours prior to show in person at the Orpheum Theatre
• Line forms outside the theatre