Support local journalism. Join the Orlando Weekly Press Club.

Thursday, November 4, 2021

Broadway is back in Orlando with Fairwinds' 'Tootsie' — but does it live up to the hype?

Posted By on Thu, Nov 4, 2021 at 1:11 PM

  • Photo courtesy the Dr. Phillips Center

Broadway is back in Orlando, and not a moment too soon. A year and a half after the Fairwinds season was abruptly curtailed by COVID-19, national touring musicals have finally returned to the Dr. Phillips Center and the enthusiasm among the opening night audience was frankly intoxicating.

In fact, between the nearly frictionless new health & safety screening system (shout-out to Evolv’s touch-free security scanners) and the opportunity to glimpse the nearly-completed lobby of Steinmetz Hall — I’d say that Tuesday night at Tootsie: The Comedy Musical got off to one of the best starts of any evening I’ve experienced in the Walt Disney Theater.

Unfortunately, although Mean Girls — Orlando’s last Broadway tour prior to the pandemic — was an above-average example of movie-based musicals, Tootsie struggles to achieve par for this justifiably derided genre. This updated adaptation of Dustin Hoffman’s 1982 hit movie sees 40-year-old failed actor Michael Dorsey (Drew Becker) cross-dressing as “Dorothy Michaels” to land a role in a misbegotten musical sequel to Romeo and Juliet, clashing with his sexist director (Adam Du Plessis) and falling for his co-star (Ashley Alexandra).

The best that I can say about this show is that the non-union cast gives it their all, especially Payton Reilly (as Dorsey’s manic pixie ex) and Jared David Michael Grant (as his bartender bestie). To be fair, the theater-hungry crowd around me lapped up every crude innuendo in writer Robert Horn’s inexplicably award-winning script, which features dick jokes rubbing up awkwardly against heavy-handed #MeToo moralizing. David Yazbek’s score and Denis Jones’ choreography accurately mock Broadway clichés, but fail to bring anything fresh or memorable to the boards.

Worst of all, director Dave Solomon (who was associate director of the Broadway production under Scott Ellis) unnecessarily drags out every comedic beat past the breaking point, sapping the pacing of any energy. Couple that with a lead character whose only personality trait is being an unlikeable ass from start to finish and who never evidences the acting talent that’s supposed to justify his arrogance, and you end up with a show whose endless second act smothers any goodwill the first briefly generated.

Did I mention already how wonderful it is having Broadway back in Orlando? If you agree, and want to maintain that positive attitude, take my advice: Show up for Tootsie’s curtain rise, but exit at intermission.

Stay on top of Central Florida news and views with our weekly newsletters, and consider supporting this free publication. Our small but mighty team is working tirelessly to bring you Central Florida news, and every little bit helps.

Tags: , , , , , , ,

We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Orlando Weekly. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Orlando Weekly, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.

Email us at

Support Local Journalism.
Join the Orlando Weekly Press Club

Local journalism is information. Information is power. And we believe everyone deserves access to accurate independent coverage of their community and state. Our readers helped us continue this coverage in 2020, and we are so grateful for the support.

Help us keep this coverage going in 2021. Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing membership pledge, your support goes to local-based reporting from our small but mighty team.

Join the Orlando Weekly Press Club for as little as $5 a month.

Related Locations


Never miss a beat

Sign Up Now

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.

Read the Digital Print Issue

January 12, 2022

View more issues


© 2022 Orlando Weekly

Website powered by Foundation