In addition to blogging under the generous umbrella of the title: Grab Your Group and Go, I manage a theater group. This entails researching and then selecting shows based on this research, reaching out my theater enthusiast friends and their friends with the dates and times of the shows that have been selected, and attending shows with the collected group. My editor in chief Stacie has constructed a pretty impressive back end process that enables me to do this and as a side bonus, I get sneak peek preview on the demand (or lack thereof) for various shows.
By the time I hit the send button on a theater message to my group of 400, I am sold on the show that has been selected. This is thanks to thorough research via the internet, newspapers, conversations, and/or in response to multiple whispered tips. This early and thorough research enables me to be fully committed and excited to see the chosen show. More often than not my enthusiasm is mirrored immediately by my group. The Ferryman had 50 sign ups after two hours. 68 people quickly signed up at a rapid-fire pace to be in the group for The Lehman Trilogy. Then 5 days later we had 70 enthusiastic people in the audience for Be More Chill. (My group has an impressive range of theater preferences).
Sometimes it is the opposite reaction. I send the message, sign-ups come in dribs and drabs and I am left to wonder why. As I don’t write or produce the shows (let’s recall my role as “middleman”) I don’t take it personally, but I do enjoy the analysis and subsequent follow-up marketing based on said analysis. The show Tootsie is one of those situations.
I was a little surprised by the relatively tepid response to the announcement of Tootsie, but then recalled having the same “hesitant” response to this show last summer – so I understood. 🙂 In the name of further research, I reached out to Sally Horchow a producer of the show (and friends with quite a few of the people in my group funnily enough) to see what her thoughts were on why my group is all over The Ferryman, The Lehman Trilogy and Be More Chill, but not Tootsie. Her reply is below. So interesting!
From Sally Horchow:
“ TOOTSIE, I’m sorry the tickets weren’t more widely snapped up. But fear not – the show delivers in every way, I promise! We’re finding the wait & see thing is very real – people have been burned so often in the last few years by bad screen-to-stage adaptations that they are reticent to jump on board yet another one before people they know have seen it and tell them that it’s good.
The main things I would say are that 1) the show is SO FUNNY (in some ways, funnier than the movie!); 2) the musical has all of the DNA of the movie (and some favorite lines) but is its own new thing – it truly stands up on its own; and 3) Santino Fontana’s performance is not to be missed.”
Sally went onto write: “I’m thinking that the following mention by NYT theater critic Jesse Green last week might help – TOOTSIE is the only original musical included among all of the upcoming offerings (“Hadestown,” “Beetlejuice,” “Ain’t Too Proud…”).”
Fast forward to this week and I can say that Sally is 1000% correct in her assessment of Tootsie. I was lucky to get free tickets to Tootsie earlier this week and am happy to report the laugh track from the audience was on high the whole time and got louder as the show progressed. In addition to Sally’s thoughts on the show here are my cursory observations. To me, the success of this show is very much about timing and delivery. Comedy is tricky. There were some expert comics on that stage smoothly delivering their lines and using short and long pauses to maximum and hilarious effect.
Another impressive part of the timing were the he/she costume changes. I would pay lots of money to get a sneak peek at what transpires backstage to get Santino Fontana in and out and out and in and then out and in again to his various gendered costumes as he tries on being a female. There must be a very carefully calculated system to make all of these costume changes happen (much like Stacie’s back end work for GYGG).
Finally, there is the timeliness of the topic. This show is and, is not the Tootsie movie you remember with Dustin Hoffman. Much of it has been preserved, but much of it has been smartly updated to reflect current and critical cultural conversations. All of this with standing ovation worthy singing and dancing. I am grabbing a group of 50 and heading to Tootsie in May. You should grab some tickets and go too!
Sidebar: if you clicked What To See In New York City This Spring…did you click the link? I think Ink might have to be added to our list and if What the Constitution Means to Me caught your attention I have tickets available for the matinee on Wednesday, May 22nd @2pm. Click here for more info and to join the group.