The musical ‘Tootsie’ brings fun, as well as a message, to New Brunswick’s State Theater


EVAN ZIMMERMAN FOR MURPHYMADE

Drew Becker (center, with rose) plays the title character in “Tootsie” at New Brunswick’s State Theater.

“Unstoppable” isn’t just an outlandish song-and-dance number in “Tootsie,” but also the perfect word to describe the hit musical’s success since its first adaptation of the 1982 film of the same name starring Dustin Hoffman. .

His notoriety continued as the State Theater of New Brunswick organized its own weekend of “Tootsie” shows. Led by Dave Solomon, the cast performed the musical (music and lyrics by David Yazbek, book by Robert Horn) to a packed crowd on November 4, with performances continuing throughout the weekend.

The musical is a commentary on the struggles of being a woman, especially one seeking to climb the ladder to achieve a dream. Ironically, the message is delivered by a man posing as a woman.

EVAN ZIMMERMAN FOR MURPHYMADE

Payton Reilly plays Sandy in “Tootsie.”

Michael Dorsey (played by Drew Becker) is a 40-year-old actor who has earned a reputation for being very “unmanageable”, getting fired (or not getting hired in the first place) due to his perfectionism and his rights. That is, until he hears about a role his friend Sandy (Payton Reilly) is auditioning for in a play called “Juliet’s Curse.”

Desperate to find work, Michael disguises himself as a woman named Dorothy Michaels and tries out for the role himself. As Dorothy, Michael is given the role after leaving a lasting impression during the audition. From there, he works closely with his co-star, Julie (Ashley Alexandra), to take the play from “Juliet’s Curse” to “Juliet’s Nurse,” a production that empowers women by revolving around two characters. feminine – one that does not. needs a romantic relationship with a man to be happy in life, and a relationship seen by society as less conventionally attractive and outdated but still the object of a young man’s affection.

As one can imagine, the difficulty in maintaining this mirage is what sets the story in motion as love, friendships and ambition cloud what initially seemed like a clever plan.

Michael’s dual identity is central to the feminist theme at the heart of “Tootsie.” Dorothy is comparable to Robin Williams’ Mrs. Doubtfire in both looks and attitude – a kind and understanding yet bold and outspoken woman who isn’t afraid to do what it takes to get what she wants, no matter what. means talking to men in positions of authority or turning around a play to become the star. Dorothy is inspiring and easy to like, both by the characters who join her on stage and by the audience.

This is in direct contrast to Michael, through which Horn emphasizes the secondary theme of the struggles actors face in a cutthroat industry. Her privileged, arrogant mindset and her desperation to find work, even if it means cheating on her loved ones, leaves Becker wishing she could portray Dorothy at any time. The production is testament to Becker’s ability to play two characters of different extremes, to the point that audiences hate one and love the other.

These themes are performed through a powerful storyline and set of songs that effectively move the story forward, with the standout being “I Won’t Let You Down.” Singing as Dorothy for the first time, Becker showed off the top of her vocal range with this heartwarming tune.

Overall, the script was so infused with humor that it left little time for the audience to process each joke except for the best and funniest moments, after which the cast – out of necessity – left enough long enough for the laughter that filled the room to die down. down.

Besides its hilarity, what made “Tootsie” so entertaining was its interactive set, which the cast quickly changed between scenes, without distracting the audience. From the illuminated buildings of New York to the city’s verdant parks and apartment complexes, the set design and use of props were detailed and brought the story to life much more, giving to the experiences and interactions of the characters a realistic touch. .

But even without its slamming doors and scenic settings, “Tootsie” is a musical worth savoring, for its message about the gender gap and the humorous yet striking way in which it presents it.

The remaining performances of “Tootsie” will take place at the State Theater of New Brunswick at 8 p.m. on November 5 and 2 p.m. on November 6. Visit stnj.org.

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