Previews: MRS. DOUBTFIRE Dazzles at Straz Center

The musical runs through April 7

By: Apr. 03, 2024
Previews: MRS. DOUBTFIRE Dazzles at Straz Center
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Imagine divorcing your real-life husband every evening and matinee.

Rob McClure and Maggie Lakis, a dynamic duo offstage and on, get to part ways as Daniel and Miranda Hillard in the brilliant production of Mrs. Doubtfire on stage at Straz Center through April 7.

On Broadway in 2021, McClure dazzled audiences as Daniel Hillard in the musical spin-off of Robin Williams' 1993 hit film. After the pandemic officially ended and Broadway was safe to turn her lights back on, McClure reprised his role and began in the touring production in 2023.

Directed by Jerry Zaks with music supervision, arrangements, and orchestration by Ethan Popp, we watched in awe as Daniel, an out-of-work man-child actor, magically transforms into the lovable Mrs. Doubtfire, a spry geriatric Scottish woman with some help from his brother and brother-in-law. He does this to be hired by his ex-wife as a nanny after losing custody of his children in the divorce. And we have to give a round of applause for his real-life leading lady, Lakis, who dazzles as the believable, underappreciated, exasperated ex-wife.

While the notes Lakis can hold were incredible, she also had some funny lines. In the song "That's Daniel," she says, "he has three kids. I have four." I know several spouses who can relate. My heart hurt when each of his children questioned if they were the reason for the divorce.

And the vocals in this production were outstanding. From the children Lydia, Christopher, and Natalie (Giselle Gutierrez, Emerson Mae Chan/Kennedy Pitney, Axel Bernard Rimmele), Daniel's family, Andre and Frank (Nik Alexander and Aaron Kaburick) to the social worker Wanda (Romelda Teron Benjamin) and Miranda's love interest, Stuart (Leo Roberts), there was not a vocal that didn't ascend across the auditorium.

The musical numbers in this show soar higher than Mrs. Doubtfire's feather duster. From foot-stomping tunes to tear-jerking ballads, the cast delivers an unforgettable performance. McClure's rendition of "I Want To Be There" will break your heart, while "Make Me a Woman" was a fun showstopper, and "It's About Time" will have you laughing out loud at Daniel's brilliance. And when the entire cast belts out "As Long As There Is Love," it's like a group hug for your soul.

Imagine Mrs. Doubtfire twirling around with a vacuum cleaner, her apron billowing like a ballerina's tutu. The costumes by Catherine Zuber and the dance arrangements and choreography by Zane Mark and Lorin Latarro are nothing short of perfection. It's playful, energetic, whimsical, and downright delightful. The ensemble turns everyday tasks into mesmerizing dance numbers, from a Siri-inspired Spatchcock chicken how-to dance number, "Easy Peasy," with social media chefs to a tap dance with the custody papers.

The lighting design by Phillip S. Rosenberg sets the mood perfectly, with warm hues enveloping tender family moments and cool blues highlighting Daniel's struggles. And when Mrs. Doubtfire takes center stage, a spotlight bathes her in a soft glow, making her look like a living, breathing Instagram filter.

This musical is pure entertainment!

The seamless scenic design by David Korins and the quick changes between Daniel and his alter ego are nothing short of miraculous, and the sportswear fashion show scene will now forever fall under the category "Things You Cannot Unsee." And that iconic whipped cream face mask? It's another important scene in the film that is masterfully transferred to the stage.

Mrs. Doubtfire is a wild and wonderful adventure through love, laughter, and crazy lengths people will go to keep their family together. It's a reminder that life's messy moments can be turned into masterpieces, and sometimes, all you need is a Scottish nanny with a heart of gold to make you see the light at the end of the tunnel isn't always a train.


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