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Mrs. Doubtfire - Seattle Pre-Broadway Thoughts

mnotavery
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inception said: 
The story does get somewhat updated to more modern thinking: at the end the message seems to be moms are bad because they make you do homework & won't let you eat sweets so it is better to have 2 gay dads.

LOLOL, I stand corrected and can't argue with that. 

I agree with you too that it probably will do well on tour / regionally because short runs will grab all the audience members who like the brand and move on to the next location and do the same. 

My comparison to Tootsie was just to illustrate what I was trying to say about a book update to an older, dated movie. I couldn't think of other recent comic movies-turned-musicals that did it better top of mind.

BobbysApartment
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Schedule delayed me being able to share my thoughts as I'd like on the show outside of production details. I will say I agree with a lot that has been said here, but I guess I fell into the nostalgia bin as I really enjoyed it.

I watched the full movie for the first time the night after the first preview, and it helped me get a better understanding of what did and didn't work for me and possibly why.

First off, the money here is in the licensing. I'd say it's a toss up how it does on Broadway, but it will sell well on tour and be endlessly produced in dinner and community theaters across the country.

Outside of some detail changes and reordering or compression of events, it is very faithful to the movie which I think is to its detriment at times. Awkward lines and quickly moving plot points or character attitude changes that seemed to turn on a dime were directly from the movie. Hammering home the point that Miranda doesn't love Daniel anymore in a show all about family seemed off to me watching from an adult viewpoint. Their relationship is not what the show is about, and there would still be some affection there while not romantic. The level of their animosity towards each other feels outsized to the situation. Sorry, long way of me saying that just felt like a simplistic portrayal of a messy relationship that felt unnatural.

This all then makes it confusing that they actually changed some things which make characters less likeable, when they would have been better off using what the movie served up to them.

Mr. McClure is working his ass off in this show. Not to say he makes it look like work, it just obviously is. Like Huck Finn in Big River, he is onstage for the majority of a 2.5+ hour musical with the added layer of constantly having to do a full character transformation multiple times throughout the show (sidenote, I'll own being off on what they were actually doing for the face - it didn't seem that extensive each time from my high vantage point). The show hinges on the actor playing Daniel/Mrs. Doubtfire, and I think he has what the role needs.

However, Daniel comes across as a jerk until Mrs. Doubtfire appears. This is definitely a result of the writing and direction, but I'm guessing some acting choices too. The movie opens with Daniel quitting a gig because he doesn't want to promote smoking to kids. In the musical, he gets fired from a commercial because he wants to improvise new lyrics. I get updating to 2019 would most likely require something different, but changing that makes the character less sympathetic. As written here, Daniel seems more childish than child-like. This is also affected by the energy of the character - Robin Williams managed to have a sort of relaxed energy, where here Daniel's energy is turned up to 11. When he yelled at his kids, it was honestly uncomfortable to watch. When he talks about Miranda, he's just downright nasty. They may have done this to give the character more of an arc for the show, but it just had me waiting for Mrs. Doubtfire to arrive. There is a moment where one of the kids says something about missing dad to Mrs. Doubtfire, and after the kid leaves, he says (in Daniel's voice), something to the effect of "I'm right here." That was the heart of the show for me, and I wish they had taken some time to develop the relationships with the kids better.

None of the other characters other than Daniel get much depth at all. There are talented performers here in roles that deserve more nuance or mainly exist to move the plot, but get more time than is warranted. Mr. Jolly dragged, and the social worker's prominence was strange. Just because a part was played as a cameo in the movie doesn't mean it couldn't be part of an ensemble track in the musical.

I'm hesitant to comment on performances further based on a first preview, but I think they've assembled a highly talented cast. I will say I thought Brad Oscar's tic when he lies was hilarious.

I thought the score was serviceable and fun during the up tempo numbers (how does anyone else not have "The shape, the shape of things to co-ome" stuck in their head?), but the musical structure of the ballads didn't always make sense, and the lyrics for those were mainly generic platitudes.

Wow, after all of this, I realize it doesn't sound like I liked the show. But I did! I was laughing along with all of the expected moments, but also unexpected moments like the Monster number - I found its ridiculousness comical. I offer these thoughts only because I think there is a better show within reach.

I held out on getting tickets for this because the two other "Pre-Broadway" tryouts I saw earlier this year at 5th Avenue were disappointing to say the least (did Ahrens and Flaherty really write that bland score for Marie? Had Austen's Pride really been in development that long to give us...that?). I wanted to leave both of those at intermission but held out hope their second acts would be better. I only got tickets for Doubtfire when I saw it had secured a Broadway house. Maybe those other two shows lowered my expectations, but I laughed a lot and had a good time. I did not want to leave at intermission. I just think they have the ability to offer more than that if they are willing to rethink some things.
 

Updated On: 12/10/19 at 03:05 AM
mnotavery
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BobbysApartment said: 
Mr. McClure is working his ass off in this show.... However, Daniel comes across as a jerk until Mrs. Doubtfire appears. This is definitely a result of the writing and direction, but I'm guessing some acting choices too... As written here, Daniel seems more childish than child-like.

Yes, hit the nail on the head. I think they could really have something with some book rewrites before March, but I don't expect they'll actually happen. 

And I totally agree with you about Marie. I didn't bother with Austen's Pride.

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MrsSallyAdams
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Who would folks say is the target audience for this show? Kids? Parents? Boomers? The unfocused changes Tootsie made had me asking "who is this for?" This sounds very similar.

Is it a story about a divorce now? Ala The Last 5 Years and the recent Marriage Story?

Is it a story about the father and kids?

Is it a story about a man putting on a drag outfit and cracking jokes?
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mnotavery
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The marketing is basically, parents, this holiday season bring your kids for this wonderfully heartwarming and funny musical about family.

The healthy takeaway message from the show is that even after families are split up, everyone can still work together to find ways to love each other and get along. A divorce and even new partners doesn't mean kids will lose their loving relationships with their parents, and though things may be different, kids have nothing to fear.

The show isn't intended to be about the marriage itself really. But in attempting to provide context, flesh out Miranda's character by adding songs, and show Daniel and the kids' angst by adding songs, and using the marriage to drive the conflict/growth plot, there's a lot about the marriage/divorce, and it gets pretty bitter.

It isn't a show about a guy dressing in drag and making jokes. They've clearly tried to handle the LGBTQ etc. issues with sensitivity and at one point dress every single character dresses up as a woman. The drag is the device for hijinks and is basically without baggage in the show's universe (for better or worse, but I can't speak to what folks who identify as LGBTQ think about that).
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inception
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Gotta say I pretty much agree 100% with all the above comments.

I was thinking yesterday that the mom's new boyfriend and their relationship could have used some fleshing out, showing some reason why she falls for him. In the movie the role was played by Pierce Brosnan, so you didn't need much more reason to understand why she was into him - he was friggen Pierce Brosnan. The movie also shortcuts gaining sympathy for the mom by having her played by Sally Field.
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BobbysApartment
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mnotavery said: "And I totally agreewith you about Marie. I didn't bother with Austen's Pride."

Be glad you didn't. And I agree on how the book for Doubtfire could be fixed, but it seems most shows don't really want to make those kinds of adjustments after an out of town tryout anymore.

mnotavery said: "It isn't a show about a guy dressing in drag and making jokes. They've clearly tried to handle the LGBTQ etc. issues with sensitivity and at one point dress every single character dresses up as a woman. The drag is the device for hijinks and is basically without baggage in the show's universe (for better or worse, but I can't speak to what folks who identify as LGBTQ think about that)."

As someone who identifies as part of the LGBTQIA+ community, I also feel like they handled this well. The joke is not that it's a man in a dress - Mrs. Doubtfire feels like her own character. The humor comes from the tension of Daniel navigating being found out at any time as well as his character's reactions bleeding through the guise of the Mrs. Doubtfire. Personally, there wasn't anything off-putting to me in this regard like I've encountered in a number of other shows.

inception said: "I was thinking yesterday that the mom's new boyfriend and their relationship could have used some fleshing out, showing some reason why she falls for him. In the movie the role was played by Pierce Brosnan, so you didn't need much more reason to understand why she was into him - he was friggen Pierce Brosnan. The movie also shortcuts gaining sympathy for the mom by having her played by Sally Field."

Agreed. I think they did a better job in the movie of showing that the boyfriend was a good guy who cared about the kids. The musical needs more than just a mention of their past connection. And yes on Sally Field. She has a way of playing the exasperated matriarch that just endears her more to me.

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Interesting report on how GLAAD was consulted not only for this show, but Tootsie as well, to ensure the trans community was okay with their nature...

Link

http://puccinischronicles.wordpress.com
lemiz1862
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Ado Annie D'Ysquith said: "Interesting report on how GLAAD was consulted not only for this show, but Tootsie as well, to ensure the trans community was okay with their nature...

Link
"

But the statement actually spells out how the producers/creative team of Doubtfire actually didn't work with GLAAD in the way they presented, while Tootsie's team did work directly with GLAAD. 

 

“As the producers of Mrs. Doubtfire made clear in their statement on December 2, 'they have taken feedback and notes from people representing different constituencies who have seen rehearsals as part of the process of making the show.' One GLAAD employee attended a rehearsal, but not in an official consulting capacity. No formal feedback from GLAAD has been given to producers. Conversations between the show’s producers and GLAAD continue."

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PatrickDC
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The 5th Avenue has posted the Playbill for Mrs Doubtfire. Interesting that Rob isn’t given better billing. He’s listed alphabetically with the rest of the cast. I assume that’s just for the out-of-town and he’ll be more prominent when it opens on Broadway. 

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PatrickDC
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I saw the show yesterday and want to give some random thoughts. 

  • Rob is outstanding, seems so at home in the role after just a couple weeks before an audience. He gets to use his exceptional puppetry and impersonation skills a lot. Tremendous and much deserved applause during his bow. 
  • The book is a riot, but it also has some dramatic and painful moments. A real rollercoaster, not unlike life! It’s a show that will resonate with anyone who has been in a broken home and family. 
  • The cast is good, but it’s really Rob’s show. But shout out to the three kids — I’m on a plane and don’t have the playbill for their names. Lydia p, the older daughter, is amazing. What a crystal clear voice and great acting chops as the liaison of sorts trying to navigate her family through the challenges. I look forward to seeing her career blossom. 
  • Brad Oscar, WHAT A CHARACTER! No spoiler but they gave him a personality tic that I thought would grow old but it drew thunderous laughs throughout the show. And later, the son uses it too, again to big effect.
  • There was talk about the overly gay stereotypes of Brad and J. Harrison. I didn’t think they were. Maybe they’ve been toned down. Their characters are flamboyant and unashamed of who they are. It worked for me. 
  • Book: Follows the movie closely and as others noted, has many word for word lines. The musical is much funnier than the movie, in terms of LOL moments. The two Mr Jolly Show scenes dragged. I liked Peter Bartlett in CINDERELLA but here he hasn’t seemed to find the character yet. 
  • Score: Well, it’s fine. Nothing really memorable. Daniel has a soliloquy during the first court appearance which is really moving, and Miranda has one at the top of Act 2. But no real show stoppers. A day later and I can’t remember many specific lyrics. When the recording is released I’ll probably listen to it a lot for a few weeks, and then rarely again. I thought their SOMETHING ROTTEN lyrics were catchier and more memorable. Oh, and there are some clever but subtle lyrics sung by a singer at the restaurant scene backed by two gorgeous make flamenco dancers (who got a few ‘whoos’ from some male audience members. Stunning.) 
  • Sets, Lights, Costumes: All good, passable elements. I did like the San Francisco skyline and Painted Ladies backdrops. The Hilliard house that tracks in is nice and functional. 
  • I was expecting TOOTSIE 2 but was happy to be proven wrong. Caveat, I only saw TOOTSIE in Chicago, so don’t know the production now. I didn’t care for TOOTSIE, my preferred MRS DOUBTFIRE. It will do well on Broadway, maybe a season or two, then should have a good, long life regionally.
  • I’ll see this again in NYC. I don’t think it needs huge changes between now and then. 
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Mark_E
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A great show!
First and foremost, it is FUNNY, plenty of laugh out loud moments which is just what you want in a musical. Sure a lot of it is nostalgia from the film but I was absolutely creased at certain moments.

Rob McClure is utterly fantastic. What a role he plays and he is rarely off stage the whole show, and when he is he’s probably quick changing!

The score is good, maybe a bit tame in parts but overall it services the story very well. The kids and Miranda were great and supporting cast very good too.

Deep down the show really emphasises that Daniel just wants to be with his kids and how the breakdown of relationships affects the kids.

One very strange musical number - I’m gonna refer to it as the “Mrs Doubtfire Hell Dream” - quite bizarre! The numbers I really loved included the “make me a woman” sequence and also the act one finale.

I can see this doing well on Broadway as it’s going to a moderate sized theatre. The audience here in Seattle lapped it up - the venue was packed!

bowtie7
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PatrickDC said: "The 5th Avenue has posted thePlaybillfor Mrs Doubtfire. Interesting that Rob isn’t given better billing. He’s listed alphabetically with the rest of the cast.I assume that’s just for the out-of-town andhe’ll be more prominent when it opens on Broadway."

I wouldn't make to much of the billing for Seattle--this run may be contracted under the 5th Ave Theatre's Lort contract. Regional production many times just bill everyone alphabetical. 

kuhset
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Just wanted to post this article here -- I apologize if it's already been posted, but I haven't seen it yet! I saw Doubtfire two days after opening, and thought it was pretty much the Rob McClure show. Everyone else was pretty much overshadowed by him. I hadn't gotten the chance to watch Rob McClure in anything live, prior to this, but was blown away by how talented he was and the amount of impressions he could do. I think the cast is vocally strong, but I found the score mediocre, and myself cringing through a number of scenes (Make Me A Woman, and the Monster sequence), for the reasons listed in that article above. 

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I don't understand all the issues about trans and Mrs Doubtfire. I've never struggled with my gender -- orientation yes, but not my identify as a man -- so it's likely over my head. I don't view Mrs Doubtfire as a political statement. Daniel simply dresses as a woman so he can see his kids. If his only recourse to see them was, say, to dress in a gorilla costume, then he would. The fact that he dresses as a woman is secondary to his just wanting to be with his kids. 

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inception
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Re the Seattle Times article: they basically found one group of the most extreme left leaning individuals they could and got their views. I would hazard a guess that this group sought out the journalist, who once they had fulfilled their word count didn't bother looking for any other opinions.
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inception
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I want to add to my above comments though, that I do agree with the one individual's comments in the article about the more troubling aspect of the story - the lengths & amount of deception an ex goes to be in the life of a woman who doesn't want him near her. The show has to make her out as a real b!tch in order to get the audience's OK. In real life a woman is more likely to be fleeing an abusive relationship. I wouldn't want to say to anyone in that situation, "You must have done something wrong for him to act like that."
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yankeefan7
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"I don't view Mrs Doubtfire as a political statement. Daniel simply dresses as a woman so he can see his kids. If his only recourse to see them was, say, to dress in a gorilla costume, then he would. The fact that he dresses as a woman is secondary to his just wanting to be with his kids. "

Excellent point.


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