By Michael Kinney
When the movie ‘Tootsie’ came out in 1982, I was in elementary school. My only concerns in life were making sure I was captain for the weekly dodgeball games and that I got in the lunch line early to get chocolate milk before it ran out.
So, there is no way I would have truly understood the satirical premise of Dustin Hoffman dressing up as a woman to get a job and the implications that went along with it. I’m sure I was probably sitting in the theater wondering why we just couldn’t see Rocky III or Conan the Barbarian again.
But now, as a grown adult who has seen much of the world, after seeing the Broadway version of ‘Tootsie”, I am still kind of perplexed.
Tootsie opened Nov. 15 at the Oklahoma City Civic Center for a six-night run that ends on Nov. 20.
The musical is based on the film version and was written by Larry Gelbart and Barry Levinson. Like the film, the musical tells the story of Michael Dorsey (Drew Becker), a talented but volatile actor whose reputation for being difficult forces him to adopt a new identity as a woman in order to land a job.
Dorsey is truly an unlikeable person who can’t keep a job because he thinks he knows more than everyone else. He has exactly two friends, whom he basically uses for his own best interests.
However, when Dorsey transforms into Dorothy Michaels in order to land a role in Juliet’s Nurse (Curse), these same attributes that made him a deplorable man are turned into positive features as a woman or totally wiped from his character altogether.
The play doesn’t hide from the fact that Dorsey is taking a role that was meant for a woman while he rationalizes that what he is doing is standing up for women.
It isn’t until Dorsey believes he has fallen in love with one of his fellow actors, Julie Nichols (Ashley Alexander) that he has to deal with the ramifications of his deceit.
The director and producers of the music seemed to go out of their way to make sure none of the male characters had any redeemable traits. They were either a liar, lecherous director, dumb actor or lazy friend.
But what had me the most puzzled was that nothing bad happened to Michael. (Spoiler Alert). He went through some drama and embarrassment for a day or two, then he basically got everything he wanted while supposedly coming out of it a better person.
The women who were made fools of by him throughout the show ultimately forgave him for it. I don’t think I know any people like that.
So, that is why the messages coming out of it were mixed.
Tootsie was still entertaining and had humorous moments. The music (David Yazbek) was solid as well.
It is worth seeing, but just don’t try and dig too deep.
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