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Musical comedy ‘Tootsie’ comes to Utica

Tennille-Lynn Millo, Special to the Daily Sentinel
Posted 10/30/22

Call it “musical comedy heaven” (Rolling Stone). Call it “the most uproarious new musical in years!” (The Hollywood Reporter).

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Musical comedy ‘Tootsie’ comes to Utica


UTICA — Call it “musical comedy heaven” (Rolling Stone). Call it “the most uproarious new musical in years!” (The Hollywood Reporter). Call it TOOTSIE! Featuring a hilarious Tony-winning book by Robert Horn and an outrageously clever score by 2018 Tony-winner David Yazbek, Broadway Utica’s latest musical “Tootsie” is “a joyful delight” that’s “so packed with punchlines, it should be called a jukebox musical!” (New York Times).

The latest take on the popular Broadway trend, “Tootsie” follows in the footsteps of film adaptations like “An Officer and a Gentleman” and “To Kill A Mockingbird” and leaves Broadway begging for more – thanks to its inside jokes and subtle nudges at the musical theater industry.

“Tootsie’s” laugh-out-loud love letter to the theater tells the story of Michael Dorsey, a talented but difficult actor who struggles to find work until one show-stopping act of desperation lands him the role of a lifetime. As the musical spin-off of the 1982 Dustin Hoffman film, “Tootsie” pushes barriers and demands the audience’s attention as narcissist Dorsey waxes his legs, shaves his chest, and sets himself in a wig and a dress. Yet, in spite of his underhanded comments, Horn places Dorsey’s intentions directly in the audience’s lap.

“For me, having been in show business for a while, I understand that ominous question we all eventually face: what happens when the time comes that no one wants you? When you’re told you can no longer do the one thing you love most in the world? How far would desperation take you? It’s something that haunts everyone in this business, no matter how successful they are. For me, that was Tootsie’s story,” writer Robert Horn explained.

Composer-lyricists David Yazbek is on hand to execute Horn’s underlying theme as he breaks into “What’s Gonna Happen,” and “Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown” at precisely the right moment. However, there’s no denying the secret behind Yazbek’s show-stopping number “Who Are You?” which removes the audience from its active mode, before tossing them back into the comedic verses that make “Tootsie” swoon.

“I think the secret to a successful book is how seamlessly it can work with the score. It should feel like one person wrote it all. David Yazbek and I laughed non-stop for three years while creating this show, and I think that joy and left-of-center humor has that handprint throughout what you see onstage,” Horn explained.

As a result of its cultural significance, “Tootsie” was nominated for 10 Academy Awards and inducted into the Library of Congress United States National Film Registry in 1982. Forty years later, the critically acclaimed musical has followed in its footsteps,
winning two Tony awards and retaining an audience that has fallen in love with a musical that retains the spirit of 80s comedy while tackling today’s complex social and cultural issues.

“The real commerce of “Tootsie” is its comedy and its tone. And of course, the clown car of actors that brings it to life,” Horn stated. “When I began to write this, I knew I had to bring my point of view, comedic language, and craft to the story I was going to tell. This assignment became more about creating the familiar world behind “Tootsie” that everyone secretly knows (and now) possibly loves.”

In this affectionate sendup of a Broadway musical, “Tootsie” is the uniquely unlikely star that Horn hopes will leave nothing untouched and no one unscathed.

“When I catch audiences watching the show and hear the tsunami of communal laughter that builds throughout the night and lifts the ceiling, I wish I could let audiences know that writing the show was that same experience. Constant laughter, community, self-reflection, joy, friendships, and love for “Tootsie” was all part of this art form. The best way to escape isolation or any human emotion is through laughter, and Tootsie does just that,” Horn remarked.

The Broadway Theatre League of Utica will present “Tootsie” on Tuesday and Wednesday, Nov. 1-2, at The Stanley Theatre, 259 Genesee St. in Utica. For tickets, visit Broadway Utica’s website at or call 315-624-9444.


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