Broadway recently returned to the District with the award-winning musical “Tootsie,” featured at the National Theatre in Northwest, with great music, choreography and plenty of laughs.
And while the show, which many fondly remember given the iconic 1982 film of the same name, has moved on to other cities after an entertaining five-day run in D.C., one of its actors says the production serves as the start of his dreams coming true.
Long Island, New York, native Steve Brustien, who contributes a solid performance in the role of Stan Fields, the agent for the lead character in “Tootsie,” Michael Dorsey/Dorothy Michaels (Drew Becker), has honed his acting skills in local theater productions at venues throughout The Empire State.
With credits that include “The Producers” (Franz Liebkind); “The Drowsy Chaperone” (Aldolpho); “Young Frankenstein” (Monster); and “Don’t Drink The Water” (Walter Hollander), he’s found his niche, albeit at the local level.
But in his supporting role in “Tootsie,” he makes his premiere as a cast member of a nationally touring production. Not bad for someone who admits he’s always been the “class clown” since childhood and has dreamed of becoming an actor for as long as he can remember.
“Over time, other things, including my family and establishing a 20-year career on Wall Street, got in the way of me realizing my passion for acting. Even when the pandemic hit and forced businesses, including the theater industry, to shut down, I was fortunate because I had a full-time job in the health care field,” said Brustein, who had already been cast in “Tootsie” before the COVID-19 pandemic interrupted his plans.
“The show was delayed several times but eventually the production company, TROIKA Entertainment LLC (an innovator in touring musical theater productions throughout North America and the world), decided to move forward — of course with safety precautions to protect the cast, crew and our audiences.”
Then, Brustien made the decision to go for the gusto and tendered his resignation from his day job.
“After I was sure the tour was really going to happen, I went into my boss’s office and said I had to follow my dream,” he said. “Now, I’m on the road as part of the first touring company for the Broadway hit musical, ‘Tootsie.’ It can’t get any better.”
Brustien said his character, while one of the original cast members in the film, has been expanded, much to his delight. And besides the obvious changes required to transform the comedy into a musical, including adding songs and choreography, the show has plenty of jokes and punchlines that he said makes “Tootsie” a musical you don’t want to miss.
“Sure, it’s a challenge to recreate such an unforgettable work but we’ve been fortunate to have the entire creative team associated with the original Broadway tour – something that’s quite rare – working with us,” he said. “When we opened in the fall in Buffalo, we were met with great reviews both from the critics and audiences. Look, you’re going to laugh for the entire 2½ hours.”
“Older folks want to see the show because they loved the original movie. But people shouldn’t forget that this production, ‘Tootsie,’ was nominated for 11 Tony Awards during its premier run on Broadway, so it’s a high-quality work. And in this age of a life-threatening pandemic and with so many political issues Americans continue to face, I think people appreciate being able to sit in the theater and laugh for a while. It’s a great break from our day to day lives. Plus, the music and dancing serve as a great addition to the original story.”
“We’ve had wonderful reactions to the show and in a few of the cities, we’ve been the first live theater experience at the venue in almost 18 months. That alone has been exciting. But being on the stage again and at this level, has been more than I could have imagined. It’s been an electrifying experience,” he said.
Find out more about Steve Brustien on Twitter @liactor and on his website, www.SteveBru.com.
EDITOR’S NOTE: The touring production features the talents of Dave Solomon, director, and actor Drew Becker who reinterprets the lead role of Michael Dorsey/Dorothy Michaels with a boldness which emphasizes the dignity of his “feminine half.” In addition, he powerfully delivers the songs and skillfully serves as the show’s anchoring force. Audiences will be captivated by the choreography of Denis Jones, particularly in the “Opening Number” and “Arrivederci!”
“Tootsie” represents another stellar production brought to the stage in Washington, D.C., by www.Broadwayatthenational.com.