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'Tootsie' rolls into Tucson

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Broadway in Tucson presents “Tootsie” at Centennial Hall through Sunday, March 27.

Back in 1982, the movie “Tootsie” burst onto the scene and folks fell in love.

In 2019, the musical “Tootsie” leaped onto Broadway and yup, everyone fell in love again.

And no wonder: the story of a hard-to-get-along-with actor who disguises himself as a woman in order to get a job is very funny.

Not that you would know it when the road show opened at Centennial Hall March 22. The acoustics in the building aren’t the best normally, but the sound was so muddy and out of balance that it was difficult to understand much of what was said and sung. It was seriously more frustrating than it usually is at Centennial.

Nevertheless, the talent shone through.

While the premise of the play is the same as the movie, the story was switched up enough to make it fresh and not feel as though it was just the movie with songs stuck in it.

Michael Dorsey disguises himself as Dorothy Michaels to land a part as a nurse in the musical “Juliet’s Curse,” a sequel to “Romeo and Juliet.” It begins as a dead Juliet springs back to life. I kid you not.

Drew Becker infuses his Dorothy with a charm his Michael seriously lacks. And Ashley Alexandra, who plays Julia, Michael’s co-star in the play and the woman he falls in love with, has a knock-out voice with the acting chops to match.

The laughter was most raucous whenever Jared David Michael Grant stepped onto stage as Michael’s straight-talking roommate, Jeff. Grant’s physical comedy is pristine and he knows how to use silence to set the audience off into prolonged giggles.

There were several comedic triumphs in this production, including Lukas James Miller who played a dim-witted actor made better thanks to Dorothy’s advice; Adam Du Plessis as the poisonous director, Ron Carlisle; and Payton Reilly as Sandy, Michael’s ex-girlfriend with serious self-esteem issues.

Denis Jones’ choreography is as witty as the songs.

But all that is for naught if the sound is miserable.

Here is hoping that those issues are quickly resolved so that Tucson audiences can get the full impact of this fun and funny musical.

Freelance writer Kathleen Allen has covered Tucson theater for more than 30 years.


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