Mrs. Doubtfire musical review is out!
Feeling nostalgic for the 90s lately? Help is on the way, dear! The hit Broadway transfer Mrs. Doubtfire arrives at the Shaftesbury Theatre for a season of pie-smashing, bosom-burning, vacuum-dancing hilarity. With brand new music by poppy power duo Wayne and Karey Kirkpatrick, the show revamps the classic Robin Williams film for the modern age but keeps its humour and heart intact. Poppets, you’re in for a treat!
The musical stays true to the original film, with a few additional plot points to ground us in the present. Lydia, Christopher and Natalie may be iPad kids now, but the tale of their parent’s divorce is timeless: tired of her husband Daniel’s childish antics, Miranda gains sole custody of their children, leaving Daniel to devise a harebrained scheme that will allow him to spend time with them under his ex-wife’s nose. Enter Euphegenia Doubtfire, the dumpy Scottish character of Daniel’s invention, who becomes the children’s nanny. For the first time in his life, Daniel finds himself on the hook for cooking, cleaning and childcare, leading to more than a few hysterical mishaps. The eleventh-hour reveal of his deception threatens to jeopardize his new parental relationship with his own kids, but Miranda’s change of heart opens a new path forward for their family dynamic.
Gabriel Vick is a riot in the central role, managing a pitch-perfect Mrs. Doubtfire without lifting Williams’ performance as Daniel wholesale. His boyish energy, clear tenor and incredible impressions are a perfect match for the show’s myriad demands. Laura Tebbutt shines as girl boss supermom Miranda, who gets a new career as an activewear designer with her own line, ‘M-Body.’ Cameron Blakely and Marcus Collins are comedy gold as queer stylists Frank and Andre, and Carla Dixon-Hernandez, Elliott Mugume and Ava Posniak make for a winning trio as the Hillard kids.
The show adds a slew of imaginative ensemble numbers to the mix, including the camp anthem “Make Me A Woman,” in which Margaret Thatcher, Angela Merkel and Oscar Wilde bust a move alongside Cher, Grace Kelly and Donna Summer. The beloved scene from the film of Mrs. Doubtfire attempting to cook dinner becomes “Easy Peasy,” a chorus of tap dancing YouTube chefs interrupted by an ad for IBS medication. And in the adorable “What The Hell,” the kids threaten rebellion against a nanny “who smells like stew” and who they worry will replace their father.
The San Francisco setting is suggested by a cutout of the skyline that spans the stage, set aglow in shades of indigo and gold. David Korins renders the Hillard kitchen a charming lilac, and the pivotal restaurant scene gets a makeover in the style of a Spanish hacienda. Catherine Zuber’s costumes faithfully reproduce Mrs. Doubtfire’s signature cardigans and plaid skirts, and Tommy Kurzman’s prosthetics design gives us an apple-cheeked mask that can be donned in a quick change without terrifying the children in the audience - no small feat, to be sure.
All of the charm of the original film is present onstage, and while no one can replicate what Williams brought to the role, seeing Mrs. Doubtfire brought to life is a thrilling blast from the past. The core message, that familial love comes in many different forms, resonates just as much today as in the 90s, and no doubt the whole family will find something to love in this heartwarming gutbuster of a show.
I first fell in love with the theatre during a preschool production of Caps For Sale, in which I treasured my single line. Since then, I’ve discovered an even greater love: writing about the productions that challenge me, surprise me, and bring me the utmost joy, in the hopes that others will seek out theatre with the power to enrich their lives and inspire wonder.