Theatre Review: MRS. DOUBTFIRE Musical at The Fabulous Fox
For 30 years, Mrs. Doubtfire’s lilting Scottish “Helloooo” has been a pop culture staple. (Admit it, you read it in the voice, right?) In 1993, brilliant comedic actor Robin Williams brought Mrs. Doubtfire to life instantly bringing quotable insanity to the screen and to millions who can quote many lines. (“It was a run-by fruiting!”)
2x Tony Award Nominee Rob McClure brings the iconic character to life in the new National Tour currently playing at the Fabulous Fox Theater. Staring as Daniel Hillard, McClure joyfully bounces between his dual role of a father who will do anything to be with his kids amid his divorce and the delightful Scottish nanny he foolishly creates to be able to be near his kids. McClure’s comedic talent shines as Mrs. Doubtfire. The musical doesn’t shy away from the most memorable moments of the movie and McClure plays them to almost perfection. It would be remiss to not think of Robin Williams acting out these lines/moments, but McClure is able to adeptly hold the audience’s attention and gain their laughter in even his quieter moments.
Starring as Miranda Hillard is McClure’s real-life wife, Maggie Lakis. Playing the straight-man to the zany nature of Daniel/Mrs. Doubtfire, Lakis’ talent feels poorly utilized. Either attention is stolen by other actors on stage or the song is forgettable in both lyrics and melodies.
Giselle Gutierrez stars as Lydia Hillard, the eldest child of three. Gutierrez excels in her performance as a child of divorce, showing both the heartache and anger her character feels. In a bright change from the screenplay, the musical book delves a bit deeper into the pain of divorce and its effects on a family. Most of this character development seems to happen in Gutierrez’s Lydia during some of the more serious moments of the musical and she shares her emotion smartly with the audience.
Rounding out the Hillard family are the two younger children, Cody Braverman as Christopher and Emerson May Chan as Natalie. Both invoke laughter from their roles as precocious children.
Aaron Kaburick stars as Daniel’s brother Frank with Nik Alexander portraying Andre, his husband. Given a more substantial role compared to the movie, the two are key conspirators in helping Daniel pull off his con. Their number “Make Me a Woman” is the truly memorable standout of the show.
Other roles include Leo Roberts as Stuart, Miranda’s would-be paramour; Romelda Teron Benjamin as Wanda Sellner, a family court appointee; and Jodi Kimura as Janet Lundy, Daniel’s TV station boss. The former two are reprising their roles from the original Broadway run.
While the musical is filled with comedic moments and features several of the most famous scenes from the movie in an updated, 2023 way, ultimately, the musical numbers are a hindrance to the story. The songs are easily forgettable and, in some ways, feel as if they are only there to assist in the quick-changes McClure needs to turn from Daniel to Mrs. Doubtfire or vice versa.
The costumes serve the show well. The transition to Mrs. Doubtfire is uncanny in its closeness to the iconic nanny we all know. The set design is suitable for the musical, but not overly memorable. There were significant sound difficulties during opening night. Hopefully, that will be fixed before additional performances this week.
For fans of the movie, the musical is delightful in bringing its most famous moments to the stage. However, the musical numbers are fairly forgettable even amid the talented actors on stage.
Mrs. Doubtfire runs through January 7, 2024 at The Fabulous Fox Theater.
Photos: Joan Marcus