Two Tony Nominated Musicals: Beetlejuice and Tootsie

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Beetlejuice. Beetlejuice. Beetlejuice. The Musical. The Musical. The Musical.

Two Tony Nominated Musicals: Beetlejuice and Tootsie
Photo: Matthew Murphy

Irreverent. In your face. Wickedly funny. Not for those squeamish about death or sensitive about certain issues. A dark comedy, but very satisfying.
These are all terms to describe Beetlejuice, the musical, starring the insanely talented Alex Brightman. Alex, as Beetlejuice, plays the lead character in The Winter Garden, the very same theatre where he performed as Dewey Finn in another incredible role, the lead in School of Rock.

Alex is so comfortable in this turf. Give him the ability to chew up a role, and bring the audience in along the way, and he will do it brilliantly.

The musical, based on the film, plays in the realm of the netherworld, connecting with a teenage girl mourning the death of her mother, who becomes the conduit to get Beetlejuice precisely what he needs. Add in a married couple, recently deceased, and it is a dense musical with lots of plot twists that tie up nicely at the end.

Beetlejuice is a completely entertaining musical that hits the funny bone over and over again. With a great set by David Korins and sound design by Peter Hylenski, Beetlejuice, features nice turns from Kerry Butler and Rob McClure, and the amazing young performer Sophia Anne Caruso, who plays Lydia. With clever music and lyrics by Eddie Perfect, and book by Scott Brown and Anthony King, Beetlejuice is directed by Alex Timbers.

Tootsie is adorable and clever.

Two Tony Nominated Musicals: Beetlejuice and Tootsie
Photo: Matthew Murphy

Another musical based on a film, this stage version is Tootsie 2.0, refreshed, rearranged and refurbished. With a wonderfully written book by Robert Horn (who is a guest on this Saturday morning’s “Bagels and Broadway with Valerie Smaldone” radio show), fresh music and lyrics from David Yazbek, great choreography by Denis Jones, and super fun direction by Scott Ellis.

This musical keeps you smiling from the very first note. Star Santino Fontana nails the part of Michael Dorsey/Dorothy Michaels. The transformed Dorothy is no longer a soap actress (for obvious reasons), but instead is a struggling New York stage actor (surely we know plenty of those in this town).

The story is so funny and warm, not only thanks to the fabulous Santino, but the entire cast, with special kudos to Sarah Stiles, portraying the perfect neurotic performer and friend (who clearly wants more) of Michael’s. Tootsie.

Both musicals are up for Tony Awards. In a season with a really healthy and nice array of Broadway musicals, add these two to the mix. Both star fantastic leading men, both sport great music and lyrics, and both keep us smiling throughout. One is completely irreverent, the other colors within the lines, but is totally charming.

It should be an interesting Tony night on June 9.

“Bagels and Broadway with Valerie Smaldone” can be heard Saturday mornings from 9-10 on WNYM Radio, also online (, Alexa and then on podcast.

The only radio show in New York devoted to theatre and food!


  • Valerie Smaldone

    Five-time Billboard Award-winning media personality Valerie Smaldone is a theatre, food, lifestyle and entertainment enthusiast. She is a celebrity interviewer, accomplished voice-over artist and actress. Recent appearances on episodic tv include Law and Order, Criminal Intent, The Other Two (on HBO Max), Tommy, Manifest and Blue Bloods. She is an audiobook narrator and producer. A live event emcee, moderator, and "Voice of God" at events and award ceremonies, Valerie has just directed and produced her first film featuring Gloria Gaynor and is producing a docu-series starring Erik Estrada. Visit her website at

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