Musical “Tootsie”: A Few More Comments

Earlier today, I told you that “Tootsie” is being turned into a Broadway musical. My email box instantly lit up with people saying that great movies rarely make great musicals, pointing to a Joe Allen’s wall worth of flops: “Nick and Nora,” “The Red Shoes,” “Singing in the Rain.” But the vast majority of shows don’t succeed, so the risk factor doesn’t seem to me to be a convincing dissuader. And what does it say that two of the three of the exceptions in recent memory — “La Cage aux Folles,” “Hairspray”; “The Producers” is the third — star a man in drag? Never forget that a drag situation provides a feast for glitzy costume designers, and gives the Broadway audience a big splashy visual feast. As for the question of who the hell could play Tootsie, my Broadway babies mentioned Norbert Leo Butz (left) and Raul Esparza. Both men are highly polished performers, but I suspect the producers might want a name: Butz doesn’t put butts on seats. Who, then, in the Dustin Hoffman part? Who sells? Apart from Hugh Jackman, who’s way too attractive to play the dumpy Dorothy Michaels in “Tootsie” (and, besides, the only stage musical Jackman’s got time for in the next decade is “Houdini”), the “name” to reach for should probably be from television. Jim Parsons, who single-handedly this summer made the creaky Broadway revival of “Harvey” a sell-out, is one possibility. The more obvious TV personality to approach is Neil Patrick Harris (right). But of course casting depends on first having the goods. So many cooks messed with the original “Tootsie” casserole that there was talk in Hollywood of forming the I Also Wrote/I Almost Directed “Tootsie” Club. I hope the musicalization is less crowded. P.S. I like the idea of an African-American “Tootsie” (re-named “Bootsie”) because I would crawl out of my deathbed to see, say, Eddie Murphy on Broadway. But, please God, not Jamie Foxx. That would have me begging for the final morphine drip faster than would a Romney-Ryan presidency.

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