Best Seat in the House: Rochester native stars in “Tootsie” musical at RBTL

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. – When Rochester native Jared David Michael Grant graduated from the School of the Arts in the Rochester City School District, he never imagined he would one day be back performing professionally in his hometown.

From Sept. 20-25, Grant will appear in the Rochester Broadway Theatre League’s season opener at the Auditorium Theatre for the stage adaptation of the beloved film Tootsie.

“It’s kind of like one of those … like they say, the full circle moment,” said Grant. “Especially performing at the Auditorium Theatre, where I graduated on that stage and then School of the Arts being right down the street, it’s a strange feeling and I’m overwhelmed but very excited.”

After SOTA, Grant went on to study musical theatre performance at Columbia College Chicago. Then, he spent time working in plays, musicals, and some television before getting the call to play the smart but down-on-his-luck writer Jeff Slater in Tootsie (originally played by Bill Murray in the 1982 film).

If you’re not familiar with the story, Tootsie is about an actor named Michael Dorsey (originated by Dustin Hoffman) who has a bad reputation for being hard to work with in the entertainment industry. When his career isn’t going his way, he takes on a new identity and a new look as a woman to get work. Grant’s character is Michael Dorsey’s best friend.

“He’s kind of the voice of reason, the voice of the audience, when Michael’s going through his journey,” Grant said. “He’s like, ‘Don’t do that.’ I have a song that says it in a more colorful way that I can’t say on TV.”

It’s worth noting that the production does include some profanity. Grant recommends it for ages 13+. If you go, you’ll notice that there are some big differences between the movie and the musical.

“Instead of it taking place on a soap opera set, it’s taking place in a new musical that’s being created, so that’s where we can add extra songs,” Grant said. “It makes sense that we have these dances.”

Grant is looking forward to having his hometown fan club in the crowd cheering him on.

“I got the family, the friends, my mom’s church group, she has her sorority coming, my dad’s fraternity’s coming,” said Grant. “Hopefully it’s a packed house. Little Jared is going crazy right now because it’s like this is everything I wanted as a child and now it’s at that point. It’s like, wow, this is mind-blowing.”

Tickets and more information about Tootsie are available here.