Monday, 30 September 2019

REVIEW: Tootsie - Original Broadway Cast Recording

Tootsie is the latest in a long line of successful musical adaptations. This year, it stormed the Tony Awards with 11 nominations, winning for Best Book of a Musical and Best Leading Actor, and is headed to the West End in 2021. The original film starred Dustin Hoffman and was revolves around a soap opera, whereas the stage version focuses on a musical. Leading man Michael adopts a female persona, Dorothy, to bag the best role, and hysteria ensues as Dorothy befriends Julie, who can’t stand Michael.

David Yazbek's score begins with a big, brassy Overture and vibrant Opening Number but by the second half the electricity wanes, resulting in a somewhat lacklustre finale. As with any composer, you can hear Yazbek's classic motifs and progressions, with homages to Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels and The Full Monty.

One of the highlights, which will definitely resonate with anyone with a creative streak is What's Gonna Happen, brilliantly sung by Sarah Stiles. The song tracks the downward spiral of struggling actress Sandy, overthinking every second of her castings. It is a relentless patter song, crammed full of witty lyrics, tricky rhythms and numerous key changes.

Santino Fortana provides unique vocals as Michael/Dorothy, delicately balancing his two personas, injecting a sublime falsetto to the material. His recurring theme, I Won’t Let You Down is uplifting. This is a brilliantly written journey, and we immediately champion the character.

There is an equally wonderful performance from Lilli Cooper as Julie. There Was John, a break-up monologue set to music is beautifully lilting, her vocals almost medicinal.

This is a cast recording that grew on me over time, adding excitement with each listen. It isn’t easy to track the plot through the score, and would perhaps work better with added dialogue. I eagerly await its arrival in West End.

Review by Ian Marshall 

Rating: ★★★
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