Loaded with laughs, love, and lipstick, the national touring Broadway musical Tootsie will land in Orange County for a two-week run at Segerstrom Center for the Arts, beginning May 31.
Adapted from the 1982 hit film of the same name, the Tony Award-winning comedy musical has been a Broadway hit since it hit the Marquis Theater stage in 2019.
The musical tells the story of a talented, out-of-work actor who, in an act of desperation, dresses as a woman to land the starring role in a Broadway musical.
The lead role of “Tootsie” is performed by actor Drew Becker, and his ingenue who plays opposite him in the musical-within-the-musical is performed by actress Ashley Alexandra.
Alexandra shared her excitement for performing in the hit national touring production as the leading lady.
What is your background in theater?
Ashley: I grew up in New Jersey, and I worked with Paper Mill Playhouse as a kid doing their summer program, went on to college to do musical theater in school, and then left school and actually started working for a hospitality company for a number of years and just worked in hotels. Then I auditioned for a cruise ship on a whim and got that, and then sailed the world for a while, came back and then just started acting full time.
That’s amazing. What does it mean to you to now perform in a national Broadway tour production?
It’s been really cool. I’ve always wanted to do a national tour, so being able to do a first national tour and kind of like put my own self and ideas into the role has been really cool and a really special opportunity.
What kind of unique components have you brought to the role of Julie?
We were really lucky that the writer was with us while we were in rehearsals. So we were able to tweak the script a little bit and it’s been nice. I think this version of Julie is just a little bit more vocal in how she feels and stands up for herself a lot more, which I think is really beneficial to the overall script as a whole.
Can you describe the set and costumes?
It’s really cool because we kind of built this world where everything kind of moves with our ensemble… it’s is a manual set rather than automatic. So we kind of change through locations very seamlessly. Everything is built on these rotating wooden buildings that kind of bring the magic to everything.
And then the costumes are absolutely stunning. Most of them are the Broadway costumes, but mine were specifically made for me. They made them from scratch in New York, which was a really cool process to go into these costume buildings that have legends on the walls. They have like costumes that they’ve made for “A Chorus Line” and other famous musicals. And I’m just like standing in this shiny room with a giant mirror with pieces of a dress on, and they make it around me. So it was really cool.
What a dream come true. What challenges have you faced in this role?
I think it’s just the last scene of the show, I think for me is definitely the most challenging one. I won’t say what it is just because it’s the end of the show. But a lot of the communication isn’t necessarily done through dialogue.
So that was something that I had to really wrap my head around. Also I’m the straight one in a comedy, so everyone gets to be funny around me and I’m usually the one kind of trying to knock sense into people. So you always want to have fun and I am having fun, but I definitely have to keep a straight face a lot longer than everyone else around me. <laughs>
Is there a musical number that you enjoy performing the most?
In act two, we have this really fun jazzy funk number and the band gets a chance to just let loose a little bit and improv in certain sections of it. So that’s always my favorite one. We all kind of just get to do what we wanna do for a little bit and make some really great music. So that’s always a really good one.
Is there a Broadway production that is your ultimate dream to be a part of?
It’s actually really funny because Hadestown is touring here with us. Not with us, but also in LA this week. And I used to sell t-shirts for Hadestown years ago, right before the pandemic. And I remember watching it and being like, “Oh, I would love to play Perce someday.” So that’s definitely a far-off dream. I’m not exactly old enough to play that part yet, but definitely something to look forward to.
When: MAY 31 to JUNE 12, 2022
Where: SEGERSTROM CENTER FOR THE ARTS, 600 Town Center Drive Costa Mesa, CA 92626
Performance Schedule: Tuesday – Friday at 7:30pm; Saturday at 2pm & 7:30pm; Sunday at 1pm & 6:30pm
Tickets: Individual tickets start at $28 Ticket prices subject to change without notice.