I admit it, I am a fan of the original film with Dustin Hoffman and a screenplay by the great Larry Gelbart and Murray Schisgal (imdg). So it was with a certain amount of anxiety that I went to the musical. Knowing, however, that the music was by David Yazbek, whose fantastic score for “The Band’s Visit” (playbill) I adored, I was hopeful.
Funny how these things turn out. The music was fine though not as groundbreaking as “The Band’s Visit” but the important turn of events came with the book, written by David Horn. It was so funny, I kept laughing out loud and it felt very good.
Other good news: the starring role of Michael Dorsey/Dorothy Michaels was brilliantly played and sung by Santino Fontana. (entertainmentweekly) Fontana managed not only to play two different people in the show but also to sing as two different people. Possessed of a fine tenor, he used it in Michael’s songs but really knocked us out with Dorothy’s soprano in her songs. (deadline) This was not his falsetto, nor was it the sound of a castrato (we wouldn’t know anyway). It was a real woman’s voice used as a fine singer would use it. We learned later that it took him months to develop this sound. If anyone deserved a Tony for his performance, it was Fontana.
The show’s plot has been changed, that is to say ‘updated,’ and one thing I did miss was the poignant romance between Dorothy Michaels and Les, Julie’s father in the film, played by the much-missed Charles Durning. (movie-mine)
This show didn’t win the Tony for best musical, though I thought it should have. Truth to tell, I did not see the winner, “Hadestown.”
This is a wonderful evening at the theater; don’t miss it.