Review: MRS. DOUBTFIRE at Saenger Theatre

Now on stage through May 19th

By: May. 17, 2024
Review: MRS. DOUBTFIRE at Saenger Theatre
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Get ready to experience the beloved story of MRS. DOUBTFIRE like never before in this heartwarming and hilarious musical adaptation. Currently playing at the Saenger Theatre through May 19, MRS. DOUBTFIRE tells the touching tale of a devoted but recently divorced father, Daniel Hillard, who will do anything to stay close to his children. His solution? Transform into the lovable Scottish nanny, Mrs. Doubtfire.

Review: MRS. DOUBTFIRE at Saenger Theatre Under the direction of Jerry Zaks, with a book by Karey Kirkpatrick and John O’Farrell and music and lyrics by Wayne Kirkpatrick and Karey Kirkpatrick, this familiar tale about fatherhood, children and the benefits of banana pie as cold cream brings a fresh, energetic twist to a timeless story that captivates its audience with its warmth and charm. While many theatre fans may be tired of seeing musicals derived from already well-known IPs, MRS. DOUBTFIRE is a refreshing addition to this niche genre, creating a theatre experience that’s both entertaining and deeply moving.

Aside from a few changes to update the script for a modern audience, the musical mirrors the same plot as the 1993 film. Daniel Hillard is a fun-loving father, devoted to his children. Still, he is an unemployed actor whose wife, Miranda, files for divorce when she has had enough of being the only responsible adult for the children. Daniel quickly becomes devastated when a judge awards sole custody of their three kids to Miranda until he finds employment and a suitable living situation. However, Miranda is busy with her aspiring fashion designer career, which means she needs a nanny. When Daniel hears about the open position, he summons his acting talents (and his brother’s makeup skills) to transform into the most beloved nanny this side of Mary Poppins.

Tony-nominated Rob McClure dons the curly wig once again as Daniel/Mrs.Doubtfire in this national tour after debuting the role originally on Broadway. A strong talent of the stage, McClure has his fair share of comedic work with shows such as CHAPLIN, HONEYMOON IN VEGAS and most recently BEETLEJUICE under his belt. People who love the original film will be glad to know that McClure skillfully embodies the heart and humor of Robin Williams’ iconic role, delivering a performance that honors the original while making the role his own. His comedic timing and vocal talents anchor the production. At the same time, his seamless transitions between the bumbling Daniel to the charming, quick-witted Doubtfire are downright impressive. Truly, it takes a talent like McClure to elicit laughter and empathy throughout the show’s runtime.

Review: MRS. DOUBTFIRE at Saenger Theatre The ensemble cast shines, particularly Giselle Gutierrez, Sam Bird and Emerson Mae Chan who play the Hilliard children Lydia, Christopher and Natalie. Their performances bring youthful exuberance and humor while representing the show’s heart. Daniel’s beleaguered wife, Miranda, is played by McClure’s real-life wife, Maggie Lakis. The pair’s natural chemistry is delightful to watch even as things become heated and contentious, especially as Miranda yells, “THE WHOLE TIME!?” after discovering her ex-husband’s secret. Aaron Kaburick reprises his role from Broadway as Daniel’s eccentric makeup artist brother Frank, who provides more comic relief by shouting whenever he tells a lie. His husband, Andre, is played by the excellent Nik Alexander, and he becomes a more fully developed character than previously portrayed in the film.

The musical numbers have both highs and lows. “That’s Daniel” is too expositional, and “Telling Time Rap” goes on with the electric keyboard for a bit too long. Fortunately, songs such as these are short and few, giving way to outstanding musical numbers such as “What the Hell,” and “Big Fat No,”  to the poignant gems “Let Go” and “Pretend.”

But perhaps the true magic of MRS. DOUBTFIRE lies in its ability to tackle serious themes with grace and sensitivity while delivering plenty of laughs along the way. Beneath the surface-level humor and hijinks, the show explores themes of divorce, identity and the importance of family communication with honesty and depth.

One of the most touching moments comes towards the end of the first act, when Daniel, disguised as Mrs. Doubtfire, sings a heartfelt ballad reflecting on the challenges of fatherhood and the sacrifices he’s willing to make for his children. It’s a poignant reminder that, at its core, MRS. DOUBTFIRE is a story about love and selflessness and the lengths we’ll go to for the ones we hold dear.

Whether you’re a fan of the original film or new to the story, the musical offers a fresh and uplifting take on what it means to be a family. Don’t miss your chance to see this enchanting new musical this weekend at the Saenger. It will make you laugh, cry and fall in love with MRS. DOUBTFIRE all over again.


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