Musical ‘Tootsie’, adapted from the classic 1982 film, makes its first visit to San Diego

San Diego theater fans will see “Tootsie: The Comedy Musical” for the first time when it premieres at the San Diego Civic Theater next week.

The musical was based on the 1982 Oscar-nominated film starring Dustin Hoffman as struggling New York actor Michael Becker, who dresses up as a woman to land a female role on a soap opera and becomes a star. overnight (with great secrecy). With a score by David Yazbek (“The Band’s Visit,” “The Full Monty”) and an award-winning book by Robert Horn (“13: The Musical”), the musical “Tootsie” premiered in Chicago in 2018 and has had a nearly a year on Broadway in 2019.

The first national tour, delayed 18 months by the pandemic, hit the road last October. In prepared comments, screenwriter Horn answered a few questions about the musical. His answers have been edited for space.

Drew Becker as Michael Dorsey on the ‘Tootsie: The Comedy Musical’ National Tour, April 12-17 at the San Diego Civic Theater.

(Evan Zimmerman/MurphyMade)

Q: How did you come up with the idea of ​​adapting “Tootsie” for the theatre?

A: The idea came from our prolific and wonderful producer, Scott Sanders, who had the rights to the film. … When he approached me about it, I got very nervous. I mean, it’s an iconic movie and a comic book masterpiece, but it also has content and plot points that I knew didn’t age well. I was terrified of taking it at first and passed on the offer. But then I sat down with the composer, David Yazbek, and we talked about all the ways to make it our own, to update it, to get back to the DNA of the story and to rebuild it from of the.

Q: What are the biggest differences between the movie and the musical?

A: The main thing was to get him out of the soap opera world. This art form felt dated and didn’t have the social significance it had in 1982. We decided to put it in the world of musical theater because it felt organic for it to become a musical…one reason for them to sing. Plus, the theater is such an insular community. Having the story take place in this world raised the stakes for the other characters. Another change that needed to happen was the point of view of the female characters in the story. It was important that they reflect the impact and progress made by women in society and art since the time of the original film. There’s both a strength and a vulnerability in the women portrayed in the musical that, sadly, might not have resonated in the early ’80s.

Q: How does Michael’s character change after dressing up to perform in a Broadway show?

A: I like a story where the protagonist isn’t always a big character at the start, but you relate to their journey, their desperation, their wants and desires, so you follow them to see them grow and change. We live in ever-changing times, and we all have a social responsibility to adapt to change and learn to grow from what we might not have understood a short time ago.

Q: What is the highlight of the show for you?

A: The real business of this show is its comedy, its tone. And of course, the clown car of the actors who animates it every evening. The comedy comes to you with such love, and then there are those hysterical David songs that immediately make you laugh and think moments later.

“Tootsie: The Musical”

When: 7 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday. 7:30 p.m. Thursday. 8 p.m. April 15. 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. April 16. 1 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. April 17.

Or: San Diego Civic Theater, 1100 Third Ave., San Diego

Tickets: $35.50 and more

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