Diamond Head Theatre’s titillating “Tootsie” is on a roll – on several fronts.

Structurally, the musical based on the 1982 comedy film starring Dustin Hoffman, is formulaic, predictable, and potentially offensive because of the notion … that a Broadway actor who cannot land a role, until he puts on pumps, dons a wig, wears a padded bra, and slips into a dress and ultimately a seductive gown, denying an actress of the gig.

Reyn Halford

Reyn Halford – the actor portraying Michael Dorsey as a dude and Dorothy Michaels as a dame — turns in a delightful dual performance. He’s a likely winner as a handsome Leading Actor in a Musical as well as a charming Leading Actress in a Musical, embellishing his pliable voice to suit the he and the she.

Halford and a cluster of his fellow lead players survive the constraints of the book by Robert Horn and songs by David Yazbek.

John Rampage, DHT’s artistic director, displays a career-best directorial turn and co-choreographic achievement (Celia Chun is director and dance collaborator), working with a sizeable 25-member cast of principals and ensemble members, in a powerful mounting of dedication, teamwork and unity.

Coupled with Candy Dungca’s and Emily Lane’s costume designs – astonishingly vibrant, eye-filling garb, ranging from splendid festive dresses and gowns to stock dance and casual gear – exceed hues you’ll find in a Manoa rainbow, and matched by hair and makeup by Aiko Schick, whose work is nothing short of spectacular. (She acts, too, as Sandy Lester).

Thus, “Tootsie” is a marvelous achievement, not believable but entertaining. Songs are repetitive and live mostly in the moment, but reprised, in case you forget ‘em.

The plot is giddy fun, with lots of clever one-liners, but laced with naughty words not suitable for the young. Michael is a desperate, struggling actor who cannot find an acting gig, so he auditions as Dorothy, thus robbing his neurotic former girlfriend, Sandy Lester (the aforementioned Schick, a bolt of energy with her own bright veneer), eager to be in the Broadway show, “Juliet’s Nurse,” a spin-off of “Romeo and Juliet.”

Michael falls for Julie Nichols (Chandler Converse, the best voice in the company), cast as Juliet, and that’s when complications begin.

There’s a merry-go-round of insanity here. Jeff Slater (Moku Durant, splendidly comical), is Michael’s roomie who’s an unsuccessful playwright. Max Van Horn (Sam Budd, constantly hysterical), is an actor playing Craig, brother of Romeo in “Juliet’s Nurse.).  Ron Carlisle (Andrew Simmons, irrepressibly unstoppable), is the director-choreographer of “Nurse.”.  Rita Marshall (Mary Chesnut Hicks, refreshingly delightful in a return to the performing stage, instead of her usual role of musical director), is the producer of “Nurse.”

Dawn Oshima’s set and lighting design relies on several projections (brick wall with lamps, a park) and rollable segments of home interiors that reflect budget restrictions, with more monies seemingly going toward the bounty of costumes. The lighting is properly bright, matching the clear and crisp sound design by Kerri Yoneda.

Roslyn Catracchia, musical director, always turns in hearty orchestrations, and doesn’t disappoint here.  However, for a musical not known for identifiable hit tunes in the score, the opening overture, seemingly endless, is not her fault, but you won’t forget Ros’ funky show-ending rouser, with everyone singing and dancing and in frenzied communion likely to be DHT’s talked-about finale of the year…

And that’s Show Biz…


A musical based on a 1982 movie starring Dustin Hoffman, with book by Robert Horn and music and lyrics by David Yazbek, about a Broadway actor who is unable to find work until he dresses as a woman to finally land a role, resulting in conflicts, confrontations and complications.

Where: Diamond Head Theatre.

When: At 7:30 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays, plus 3 p.m. Saturdays and 4 p.m. Sundays, through June 23; best seats available for the extended run at 7:30 p.m. June 21 and 4 p.m. June 22.

Tickets: $37 to $62, available at the box office, at www.diamondheadtheatre.com or (808) 733-0247.

Advisory: Not recommended for youths 11 and younger, due to adult themes and humor, including occasional foul language.

2 Replies to “DHT’S ‘TOOTSIE’ IS ON A ROLL”

  1. Mahalo for the sparkling review, Wayne! I don’t know how you manage to write so fast, but I’m so glad you do. I’m going to the 4 p.m. performance today and now I’m really excited about it!

Leave a Reply