Tootsie as a musical is a confusing mélange, and not for the sexual and romantic attractions and farce-heavy confusions it sets in motion by lead character Michael Dorsey's (Santino Fontana) cross-dressing. Mr. Fontana sings beautifully, in a novel tenor-falsetto blend, and nails every joke. To pull the Band-Aid off fast: The staging and physical production of “Tootsie” are so trite and vanilla they could pass for the work of Ron Carlisle on “Juliet’s Curse” — or perhaps George Abbott in 1965. Based on a beloved 1982 movie starring Dustin Hoffman, the show by David Yazbek and Robert Horn unleashes more zippy one-liners and corny double entendres than anyone could ever want. As a critic, I feel it’s my responsibility to tell you what’s wrong with “Tootsie,” the musical comedy that opened on Tuesday at the Marquis Theater. But do we really want to dedicate our time to his lengthy, self-centered learning process - especially, in Tootsie, when the hero gets to spend so much of that process enjoying the spotlight? “Juliet’s Curse” is a sequel to “Romeo and Juliet” in which the resuscitated heroine falls for Romeo’s ripped brother, Craig. Though his mocking pastiche is always better than what it mocks, there’s simply too much of it here. Happily, “Tootsie” recovers, thanks in part to its excellent cast, which includes Michael McGrath as an agent and the delicious Julie Halston as a producer. The mantle of Michael Dorsey/Dorothy Michaels has been passed down on this occasion to the sublime Santino Fontana, who not only gets to strut his farcical stuff, but also sings, amazingly well, in two registers. Julie in particular is a far cry from Jessica Lange’s delicate flower; she’s independent, confident and up for anything. “Tootsie,” with a book by Robert Horn and songs by David Yazbek, has somehow avoided all those traps. TOOTSIE features an original score by Tony Award-winner David Yazbek (The Band's Visit, The Full Monty, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels), a book by Robert Horn(13; Dame Edna, Back with a Vengeance), choreography by Tony Award nominee Denis Jones (Holiday Inn, Honeymoon in Vegas), and music direction by Andrea Grody (The Band's Visit). Tootsie (Original Broadway Cast Recording), an album by Various Artists on Spotify We and our partners use cookies to personalize your experience, to show you ads based on your interests, and for measurement and analytics purposes. Just when you thought the old-fashioned musical comedy was dead, along comes an adaptation of a 37-year-old movie about sexism in the entertainment industry to breathe new life into it. Director Scott Ellis leaves nothing and no one unscathed in staging this satire of a Broadway-bound musical called "Juliet's Nurse." There really is much to like about "Tootsie." Let me tell you instead what’s right. But though “Tootsie” is hardly avant-garde, it need not have been a throwback. He is topped at one point by a door cracking open. (Scott Ellis is the director.) To support so much lyrical cleverness, Mr. Yazbek has largely dialed back his music. But it's unconventionally funny. The show stands or falls largely on the startlingly plausible shoulders of Santino Fontana as Michael Dorsey/Dorothy Michaels -- and there's no question that this reliable star of such musicals as R&H's Cinderella has made a break-out, star-making turn here that turns him into a leading player. Theater Review: Can Tootsie Work When It’s Not 1982? Review: ‘Tootsie,’ a Musical Comedy That Fills Some Mighty Big Heels. But it’s no longer a bad soap opera that Dorothy stars in; naturally, it’s a bad musical comedy. It's not without a few runs in its stockings, but this Tootsie is a delight, a not-quite-blind date that plays out so much better than you could have imagined. Musical comedy only soars when it’s fully grounded, and “Tootsie,” however unbelievable, has its feet on the ground — in a modest Size 13 heel. In the process, Michael (also Mr. Fontana, obviously) falls for Julie (Lilli Cooper), who plays Juliet, even as dim Max Van Horn (John Behlmann), who plays Craig, falls for Dorothy. ‘Tootsie’ Broadway Review: Santino Fontana Can’t Fill Dustin Hoffman’s Heels in New Musical, 'Tootsie' review: Musical adaptation disappoints. Directed with Swiss watch precision by Scott Ellis, Tootsie is an unexpected, charming delight. But exactly because this is a new era, and because an adaptation has to spring its own surprises, the musical develops these issues quite differently. It's also a flat-out laff-riot from start to finish, featuring a cast packed with expert stage comedians landing bookwriter Robert Horn's archly-humored gags, enhanced by David Yazbek's muscularly-rhythmed jazz score that propels his attractively glib lyrics, occasionally giving way to sparklingly sincere poetics. Fittingly for a tale of duplicity, everything has to do double duty. Michael Dorsey, a New York actor who can’t get a job because he’s so difficult, still finds success after retooling himself as a Southern lady named Dorothy Michaels. It’s a musical. Release date: 2019 Or, most damagingly: a story so denatured it’s no longer worth the trouble. Dorsey, a pill who taunts directors with his ego, has a lovable deadpanning roommate, Jeff (Andy Grotelueschen) and a wacky best frenemy named Sandy (Sarah Stiles), and this boffo comedic pair, along with John Behlmann's clueless bit of beefcake, keep the laughs rolling. Mr. Yazbek is one of the few composer-lyricists working today who can set jokes to music and make them pay. The theory that musical comedy requires a flat, conventional environment to let the jokes stand out is evidently being heeded here. The writers deserve some credit for not blindly following the film and making changes to the setting and dialogue in an attempt to better suit it to a new medium, but the resulting product is substandard.