In 1982, Dustin Hoffman delivered a comic tour-de-force in the Blockbuster film “Tootsie,” playing down-on-his-luck actor Michael Dorsey who disguises himself as an actress named Dorothy Michaels to land a role on a popular soap opera. And it’s not long before Dorothy becomes the talk of the town.
Decades later, the classic comedy was turned into a Broadway musical, with Robert Horn taking home a Tony Award for Best Book in 2018 and David Yazbek’s clever score captivating audiences.
One of those audience members was actor Michael Bingham who hadn’t previously seen the movie.
“I thought it was so great and had just a wonderful time,” he says.
So, when the opportunity came up last year for Bingham to audition for the national tour of “Tootsie,” he jumped at the chance and landed an ensemble role.
“I started to become familiar with the movie and it holds up so well,” he says. “Although adapted from the movie, it’s now set to present day so it feels new.”
One change is instead of Michael being on a soap opera, the setting is now a Broadway musical, which necessitates big musical numbers.
As part of the ensemble, Bingham plays a lot of the characters who are in the “show within the show,” filling in a lot of Michael’s thoughts throughout the production. The actor also understudies two of the leads.
The show stars Drew Becker as Michael/Dorothy, Ashley Alexandra as Julie, Payton Reilly as Sandy and Jared David Michael Grant as Jeff. Like the original movie, Michael is a struggling actor who finds it difficult to sacrifice his art for fame.
While the movie may feel dated to some, Bingham feels the musical does an outstanding job of making the story universal to all generations.
“It’s all derived from this wild main character and the lengths he’ll go to for fame and to fulfill his dreams,” Bingham says.
From December 7-12, theatergoers can catch “Tootsie — and Bingham — at the National Theatre in D.C.
Bingham is no stranger to Washington, D.C., having performed in the national tour of “Bandstand,” which played the same theatre in 2019, as well as appearing in “Camelot” at the Shakespeare Theater Company.
“D.C. is one of my favorite cities I’ve ever performed in, and I always love an excuse to come back,” Bingham says. “The ‘Camelot’ job at Shakespeare Theatre Company was my first job that I got out of college.”
The actor grew up in Hawaii, but had what he describes as a “slow-burning” relationship with musical theatre. It wasn’t until high school when he decided it was a career he wanted to pursue, and graduated from the theatre program at Elon University.
He’s contracted to “Tootsie” through next summer and is looking forward to travelling the country with the friends he’s made in the show.
“I love seeing the different cities and the unique different regions, which is the best part of this experience,” Bingham says. “It’s great seeing the different reactions from the audiences. They really love the snappy dialogues.”
A fan-favorite is the character Max, a former reality star who got cast in the musical as well. One of Bingham’s signature moments is when Max is having a fake sword fight with some members of the audience and Bingham’s character is trying to “ham it up” and steal the spotlight away.
“It’s my favorite part of the show and it’s the most fun I have had in a production,” Bingham says. “The show is non-stop laughs and just a great time.”
Theatergoers can catch “Tootsie” at the National Theatre downtown D.C. from December 7-12. Purchase tickets here.
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