Saturday, June 15, 2024

“Tootsie” Comes to Broadway and Brings the A List Including Carol Burnett, Debra Messing, Kristen Chenoweth, Harvey Fierstein, Clive Davis and More


“Tootsie” has arrived on Broadway to great reviews and lots of laughs in the airport terminal like Marriott Marquis Theater last night.

Before the show even started, the fun was on the red carpet where I hung out with Gossip Queen Cindy Adams. Oh, the stories you won’t hear!

But what a gang! Carol Burnett, Debra Messing, Kristen Chenoweth, Harvey Fierstein, Clive Davis, Valerie Simpson, Michele Lee, Sandra Bernhardt, Richard Kind with his 14 year old son, Brenda Vaccaro, Desmond Child, Bobby Cannavale and Rose Byrne, and Ryan Eggold– star of NBC’s “New Amsterdam” — were among the parade of A listers who held the show’s curtain from going up for at least a half hour. That’s the way we like it!

Here’s a little scoop: Eggold tells me he can sing, and he’s considering doing a Broadway musical. It will not be called “Sutures and Slings.” Also interesting: even though “New Amsterdam” had a title change from “Bellevue,” the actual New York hospital it’s based on, they shoot some of the show there.

But back to “Tootsie”: I had the honor sitting in the top row with Shubert Organization president Phil Smith. We could hear the roars of laughter as they rolled up from the orchestra level. The big star of the night was Sarah Stiles, known to TV audiences from the show “Billions.” (A lot of the cast was there to support her.) Stiles plays the Teri Garr role, Sandy, from the 1982 movie, and steals the show right from the second number. The Tony Award category of Best Supporting Actress is going to be very competitive, what with Amber Grey (Hadestown) and Leslie Kritzer (Beetlejuice) also at the top-top-top of their games.

Santino Fontana takes the Dustin Hoffman role as Michael Dorsey/Dorothy Michaels, updated of course, and Lilli Cooper has the Jessica Lange part of Julie. The show has been revamped significantly from the movie, with the soap opera setting exchanged for a Broadway musical about Juliet’s nurse from “Romeo and Juliet.” Reg Rogers is hilarious as Dabney Coleman-inspired producer who’s hot for Julie, Andy Grotelueschen is the best friend played by Bill Murray (and now more Seth Rogen-ish), and Julie Halston is a new character– the rich widow who financially backs the show.

In this plot, updated from 1982, the Charles Durning character (Julie’s dad) is gone, and the word ‘lesbian’ is used a couple of times (not in the movie). It’s Very Modern, which resonates with the 2019 audience. My only complaint about Robert Horn’s book is that there is no scene in which Michael gets the idea to become Dorothy. After many career frustrations as an actor, Michael simply appears as Dorothy without explanation.

Fontana, who’s been in countless Broadway shows, is a star as Michael/Dorothy, very winning and wholly in charge of the stage. But he’s playing it very close to Dustin Hoffman at all times. No one should forget that Dorothy is Hoffman’s invention, from the wigs to the accent. Over the last two years, Hoffman has gotten slagged in the #MeToo movement. But he has been a genius inventing characters, with Dorothy at the top of the list.


Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

Read more

In Other News