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Entertainment Weekly

Exclusive

Tootsie first look: Santino Fontana cleans himself up for Broadway musical

Robert Trachtenberg

Posted on

Time for a re-introduction to Tootsie.

Santino Fontana is stepping into the shoes of the iconic, gender-bending character, which Dustin Hoffman played to Oscar-nominated effect in Sydney Pollack’s 1982 film. Now the story is being reimagined for the stage, with the main character turning into “Tootsie” to score a role in — you guessed it! — a Broadway musical instead of a soap opera. Best known for his role as (original) Greg on Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, Fontana is a Tony-nominated theater actor,  for his performance in Rodgers + Hammerstein’s Cinderella.

Above, EW and PEOPLE have an exclusive first look at Fontana in the role, which recreates a memorable scene from the film in which Michael Dorsey (Hoffman) shaves his beard while in his Tootsie ensemble (and also inspired by this classic 1965 Esquire cover). EW has also learned that the musical, which received a positive reception out of its launch in Chicago, will be updated to the modern era, likely giving the story a fresh look in a contemporary setting.

“Taking on an iconic movie like Tootsie is both intimidating and exhilarating,” Robert Horn, writer of the musical’s book, tells EW. “Our goal was to honor the DNA of the movie, but also make it our own — something original, unexpected and modern. A musical that asks the question: ‘what would you do if you were told you could no longer do what you loved the most? How far will desperation take you?'”

Horn also offered some insight into the decision to tell this story against a Broadway backdrop. “Changing the story’s setting to the world of Broadway felt like an organic way to update it, as it gave the characters a reason to sing,” he explains. “And the idea of a desperate, self-centered actor becoming a better person by walking in someone else’s shoes became the springboard for a journey that we felt was universal and resonates culturally. Whether you adored the movie or have never seen it, our goal was to draw you into the world of these outlandish characters and make audiences laugh. This is classic Tootsie, but for a new generation. And this Dorothy sings!”

Check out the photo above. Tootsie, which features music and lyrics by The Band’s Visit‘s David Yazbek, begins performances at the Marquis Theatre in New York on March 29, 2019, before an official opening night of April 23. Scott Ellis directs the production.

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