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Broadway at the National Theatre

December 9, 2021

By: Jordan Wright 

Cast of Tootsie at The National Theatre

Ah, struggling actors who work in restaurants in New York City. Sound familiar? That’s the premise for Tootsie, the musical-within-a-musical based on the original story by Don McGuire and Larry Gelbart. You probably remember the blockbuster movie by the same name starring Dustin Hoffman as the actor who becomes a drag queen in order to land a role in a musical. Co-star Jessica Langesnagged an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress in her role as the girlfriend.  In 2018 Composer David Yazbek turned it into a musical. And, by the by, that’s Yazbek of Broadway’s smash hits The Band’s Visit; The Full Monty; Dirty Rotten Scoundrels and more. Robert Horn, who wrote the book won the 2019 Tony, Drama Desk, Outer Critics Circle and New York Drama Critic’s Circle Awards for his work on Tootsie.   

According to his agent, 40-year-old Michael Dorsey, erstwhile waiter at Steakhouse on the Bone, is persona non grata at auditions. His insistence on demonstrating his “truth” has gotten him tossed out on his ear from every production in town and casting agents are weary of his egotistical outbursts.

Frustrated and demoralized, he decides to try out for a female part using the stage name Dorothy Michaels.  He, as she, catches the eye of Rita, the producer who appreciates a feisty female and despite the protestations of the director gets the lead role – rewriting the entire script in the process and falling head over heels for a female cast member who admires this tough cookie.

What I didn’t know going in was that this was as much a comedy as a musical.  Think Mel Brooks funny.  Think Sondheim’s A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum.  Now you’ve got the picture. This show is a gag-a-licious funfest from opening lines to the final curtain. Twenty-one fabulous songs spotlight the performers artistry and put us in the mood for a rom-com on female empowerment wrapped in a love story.  And, although there are no big names in the cast, they are all superb. Lead actor, Drew Becker, emerges as a new funny face and accomplished singer.  Kudos too to comedienne Peyton Reilly as his gal pal, Sandy Lester, “I just learned a new yoga position – downward spiral!”, and Jared David Michael Grant who slays as his roomie, Jeff Slater. Check your funny bone for his second act number, “Jeff Sums It Up”.

Thanks to Tour Set Designer, Christine Peters, it has all the dazzling sets you’d expect for a full-on B’way production plus an 11-piece orchestra led by Andrew David Sotomayor.

Directed by Dave Solomon with Choreography by Denis Jones and Costume Design by William Ivey Long.

Additional cast members include Ashley Alexandra as Julie Nichols; Lukas James Miller as Max Van Horn; Kathy Halenda as Rita Marshall; Steve Brustien as Stan Fields; Adam Du Plessis as Ron Carlisle; Alex Ruiz as Carl; Connor Allston as Stuart; and Dominique Kempf as Suzie.

Totally embraceable Tootsie runs through December 12th at The National Theatre 1321 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, Washington, DC.  For tickets and information visit  All COVID-19 safety protocols in place for a safe theater experience.

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