Theater Review: “Mrs. Doubtfire” Takes Care of Entertaining You

Kevin Taft reviews the theatrical musical adaptation of Mrs. Doubtfire, which proves to be skillfully made and entertaining, if somewhat forgettable.
User Rating: 7

A sure-fire crowd-pleaser for general audiences seeking a bit of theater, Mrs. Doubtfire: The New Musical Comedy takes care of your funny bone and has a few spirited songs to boot.

Written by Karey Kirkpatrick (Disney’s animated film James and the Giant Peach) and Wayne Kirkpatrick (Broadway’s “Something Rotten!”), the film is a frenetic adaptation of the hit film starring the late comic genius Robin Williams. The story of a newly separated man who disguises himself as a Scottish Nanny so he can spend time with his kids is ripe for comedy and for those touchy-feely ballads you know will be coming.

The show stars the Tony-nominated original lead actor Rob McClure as Daniel and his real-life wife Maggie Lakis as Daniel’s estranged ex-wife Miranda.

McClure surely has this role down pat, and his comfort on stage is clear. He is a master of impressions and has the energy of the Loony Tunes Tasmanian Devil. The jokes are fast and thick, and seem to be updated every so often to reflect current pop culture. He masters this with aplomb, never totally trying to mimic Williams’ delivery, but clearly trying his best to keep up. It’s an unforgiving task, but he makes it enough of his own that you don’t sit in the audience trying to compare.

With three children in the cast (Sam Bird, Emerson Mae Chan, and Giselle Gutierrez), all do an exemplary job, with Gutierrez being a total standout as daughter Lydia. Her rich, flawless voice was a joy to listen to, and she gives each of the songs she leads (“What the Hell”) or duets on (“Just Pretend”)  a gravitas that is welcome amongst the lunacy.

Credit has to go to the ensemble cast, who are working overtime here, swiftly moving through multiple characters and making various complex costume changes – sometimes within seconds. It’s a marvel to watch.

See Also: Theater Review: “A Strange Loop” is an Affecting Look at Race, Sexuality, and Body Image

For stalwart theater aficionados, this still feels like a show designed for touring and middle-America who will laugh at every gag and enjoy the story’s familiarity. The score is pretty good, but it’s not anything you’ll particularly walk out of the theater humming.

While McClure is clearly accomplished, some will find the continuous mugging and joking by the Daniel version of his character to be a bit tedious. It’s toned down when he turns into Mrs. Doubtfire (with a few chaotic interludes), and that’s where he shines. Again, he’s excellent at what he does, but it can be like being out with a friend who constantly makes jokes and then stares at you while he’s doing it to see if you’re laughing.

In addition, he is very impressive in how he gets in and out of his Mrs. Doubtfire outfits, and it’s understandable that the “makeup” to make him look like an older woman has to be a literal mask to accomplish this onstage. The drawback is that it sometimes causes a bit of an uncanny valley appearance. It’s curiously creepy but not wholly distracting.

Overall, Mrs. Doubtfire is in line with the entertaining “Tootsie” or “Back to the Future,” where the story goes down easy. Like Mary Poppins, you’ll get a few hours of solid entertainment, but it will disappear into the ether afterward.

“Mrs. Doubtfire: The New Musical Comedy” runs through June 30th at the Pantages Theater in Hollywood.
For more info and tickets, please visit www.broadwayinhollywood.com

It will also travel to the Costa Mesa at Segerstrom Center for the Arts from September 24 through October 6, 2024.

For more info and tickets, please visit www.scfta.org

 

mrs. doubtfire

7
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Kevin is a long-time movie buff with a wide variety of tastes and fixations in the film world. He cried the moment Benji appeared onscreen in “Benji,” and it took him about four times to finally watch “The Exorcist” (at age 24) without passing out. “Star Wars: A New Hope” was the movie that changed everything and when his obsession with films and filmmaking began. A screenwriter himself (one long-ago horror script sale to New Line remains on a shelf), his first film "Two Tickets to Paradise" that he co-wrote premiered in June 2022 on Hallmark. He is currently working on another for the iconic brand.

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