By Donna Herman
Mrs. Doubtfire is a Broadway musical that is a perfect antidote to the pandemic blues. It is charming, family-friendly, zippy, funny, and beautifully produced and performed by a roster of Broadway veterans. You don’t need a crystal ball to predict that it will run for a long, long time. You just need to see it.
I admit I had my doubts about the project when I first heard about a musical version of “Mrs. Doubtfire” coming to Broadway. The 1993 movie of the same name was the second highest grossing film that year in no small part because of Robin Williams’ performance in the title role. For which he won a Golden Globe for Best Actor in a Comedy or Musical and the film won the Golden Globe Best Picture – Comedy or Musical. So, the obvious question is, who is going to be able to play that part and pull it off?
Well, the answer is probably going to surprise you because, unless you are a die-hard Broadway fan, you might not know his name. But I promise you, after “Mrs. Doubtfire,” the Broadway musical, nobody will be able to say they haven’t heard of Rob McClure because he gives a performance that even Robin Williams is applauding from the great beyond. And I have to say, Rob McClure doesn’t just “pull it off.” He bounds, leaps, dances, sings, twists, turns, performs a hundred different voices and accents, and even does a killer turn at beatboxing. And not once does he go over the top, or lose the character of Daniel Hillard, the father who is trying to stay close to his children any way he can.
Mr. McClure is not the only shining star on stage. The rest of the cast is a wonderful match for his boundless talent. Standouts for me were his 12-year-old son Christopher (Jake Ryan Flynn) who nailed the gawky, awkward, perpetually embarrassed middle school boy down to a breaking voice and the seeming ability to blush at will. Analise Scarpaci as his 15-year-old daughter Lydia not only has a beautiful singing voice, but the acting chops to pull off the confusing, angst-ridden state of being between girl and woman when your parents are going through a break-up. What does this mean for the family now? And what does this mean for you as a person in a relationship in the future?
I have space considerations so I can’t list every single person who I thought was wonderful, but I do have to shout out Brad Oscar as Daniel’s brother Frank, and J. Harrison Ghee as Andre Mayem, his husband. A seamless, hysterical duo who animated every scene they were in. And one more shout out to Aléna Watters who plays the Flamenco Singer in the restaurant scene near the end. Ms. Watters gives a bravura performance singing a song about a lying, cheating lover and how she wants to kill him, while doing a complicated flamenco dance, getting increasingly impassioned. All the while Daniel is doing rapid changes between his persona as Mrs. Doubtfire and himself as he tries to have dinner with his family and possible employer simultaneously. Ms. Watters’ scorching flamenco song and dance is center stage and amplifies and adds an indefinable something that makes the scene into one of the funniest things I have seen in a long time.
I can’t possibly leave you without mentioning the stunning work of the brothers Wayne & Karey Kirkpatrick who wrote the music and lyrics, and Karey Kirkpatrick and John O’Farrell who wrote the book. While staying true to the basic plot of the movie, they have updated “Mrs. Doubtfire” in subtle ways to reflect the ways society has evolved in the almost 30 years the movie was released. The cooking show number when Mrs. Doubtfire is trying to make her first meal as nanny is one example. And veteran Broadway director Jerry Zaks’ touch is in robust evidence throughout. The restaurant scene is a marvelous example of the synergy between all the creative talent – writers, songwriters, actors, dancers, choreographers, and directors.
While it isn’t without flaws – the ending almost devolves into a treacly mess but is redeemed at the last minute by the final scene – Mrs. Doubtfire is a winner that will delight audiences for a long time to come.
Mrs. Doubtfire Music & Lyrics by Wayne & Karey Kirkpatrick, Book by Karey Kirkpatrick and John O’Farrell, Directed by Jerry Zaks, Choreography by Lorin Latarro
WITH: Avery Sell (Natalie Hillard); Jake Ryan Flynn (Christopher Hillard); Jenn Gambatese (Miranda Hillard); Analise Scarpaci (Lydia Hillard); Aaron Kaburick (Photographer/Chef Louis/Maitre’D/Ensemble); Rob McClure (Daniel Hillard); KJ Hippensteel (Principal/Ensemble); Erica Mansfield (Therapist/Ensemble); Kaleigh Cronin (Sexy Soccer Woman); David Hibbard (Judge/Delivery Guy/Rectisol Doctor/Ensemble); Charity Angel Dawson (Wanda Sellner); Brad Oscar (Frank Hillard); J. Harrison Ghee (Andre Mayem); Maria Dalanno (Young Actress/Ensemble); Peter Bartlett (Mr. Jolly); Jodi Kimura (Janet Lundy/Ensemble); Cameron Adams (Chef Amy/Ensemble); Aléna Watters (Chef Ann/Flamenco Singer); Mark Evans (Stuart Dunmire); Calvin L. Cooper (Loopy Lenny/Flamenco Dancer/Ensemble); Casey Garvin (Flamenco Dancer/Ensemble); Helga (Kaleigh Cronin/Ensemble); Sam Middleton (Ensemble); Akilah Sailers (Ensemble); Jaquez André Sims (Ensemble); Addison Takefman (Ensemble)
Music Supervision, Arrangements & Orchestrations by Ethan Popp; Scenic Design by Zane Mark; Costume Design by Catherine Zuber; Lighting Design by Philip S. Rosenberg; Sound Design by Brian Ronan; Hair Design by David Brian Brown; Makeup & Prosthetics Design by Tommy Kurzman; Dance Arrangements by Zane Mark
At the Stephen Sondheim Theatre, 124, West 43rd Street, NYC. Tickets now available through May 8, 2022. To get tickets: HERE OR Call 212-239-6200 or visit the theater box office Monday through Saturday from 10am to 6pm or visit