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Broadway Q&A: Andy Grotelueschen of ‘Tootsie’

Category Broadway

|by Jeryl Brunner |

The Tony nominee on tackling the wisecracking role of Jeff

Andy Grotelueschen stars as Michael Dorsey’s roommate Jeff Slater in Tootsie. Jeff is a playwright who is spending more time working at a bar than following his writing dream. He’s also very good at advising Dorsey (Santino Fontana) who disguises himself as a woman in order to get a part in a Broadway show. Based on the beloved 1982 film, the hit show was nominated for 11 Tony awards, including a nomination for Grotelueschen. His other credits includes Into the WoodsTwelfth NightThe Two Gentlemen of Verona, CymbelineMeasure for Measure, Cyrano de Bergerac, The Taming of the Shrew and The Odyssey. He has appeared on television in Elementary, The Good Wife, The Good Cop and The Knick

Andy Grotelueschen stars as lovable roommate Jeff Slater in ‘Tootsie’ (Photo: Matthew Murphy)

Andy Grotelueschen stars as lovable roommate Jeff Slater in ‘Tootsie’ (Photo: Matthew Murphy)

Where were you when you heard you were nominated for a Tony Award?
Andy Grotelueschen: It was nine o'clock in the morning. I did not watch the announcements. I woke up to my phone going “errrrrr, errrrrrr, errrrrrr,” and there were about 80 text messages. So I rolled over and said to my girlfriend, “Oh my god, I think it happened. I think it happened.” I didn't even know when the announcements were until one day before. It was crazy. 

At that point, we had just opened the show. All these things were just coming in, coming in and coming in. So I was like, “Well, I'm just gonna stay even-keeled for the whole thing.” Also, I didn't want to watch TV to see if they were going to say my name. And if they weren't going say my name, then I'd be disappointed. 

Jeff is almost the moral heart of the show. He knows that Dorothy is really Michael, and tries to guide him. What do you love about Jeff?
AG: There are a lot of different things people say about him. He’s the conscience, he's the Jiminy cricket. Also, I'm the stand-in for the audience. I think that's the idea I like the most. That is what people say to me after the show: “We all know somebody like that.”  Or they will say, “I wish I had a friend like that.” Or, “Sometimes, I have to be the friend like that to a friend making terrible decisions.” Sometimes I think that I'm a ghost. I just sort of haunt Michael in the apartment. Like A Christmas Carol.

When you first heard about Tootsie, the musical, what did you think of it?
AG: I was in workshops for the show for like the last two years. When I first heard about it I thought, “Well, let's see.” It's very, very difficult to do a movie musical adaptation well. It can feel like the best bits of your favorite movie with some songs in it. And with this film, it’s so beloved. I love it so much. I wasn't sure how it was going to come together. But I remember the first read-through that we did – a workshop long, long ago. I thought, “This is really smart.”

What was one of the first Broadway shows you ever saw? 
: I think the first one that I ever saw was Jekyll & Hyde. David Hasselhoff was in the audience. I was in New York on a spring drama trip from college. I was at Marquette University in Milwaukee. And David Hasselhoff was in the audience because he was going into the role. At intermission I remember bumping into him and thinking, “Wow, he’s really, really tall.” 

For more of the best of Broadway this season, check out our list of the Top Shows in New York in September 2019. 

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