REVIEW: “Mrs. Doubtfire” a 90’s Nostalgic Treat

By Grace Eichler

Based on the 1993 Chris Columbus movie starring Robin Williams, Mrs. Doubtfire is brought to the stage under the direction of Jerry Zaks. The Broadway run (unluckily) began previews March 9, 2020, and was forced to immediately halt its run due to COVID until October 2020. It then struggled to maintain steam as a new musical in the rocky re-opening of Broadway theatres, and closed May 2022. Taking the show on tour, however, may be just what the nanny ordered.  

The Story of Mrs. Doubtfire

The plot remains the same as the family-friendly favorite film: Mom divorces an unreliable and immature Dad, Dad disguises himself as an elderly Scottish nanny in order to maintain contact with his children, chaos ensues. While there are heartwarming moments and updates added to bring the ‘93 story into ‘23, this is not high art prose on stage. But it’s a family friendly musical that will delight the kids (and kids at heart) without feeling too saccharine, which is itself a feat.

Maggie Lakis (Miranda Hillard) and Rob McClure (Daniel Hillard) and cast in "Mrs. Doubtfire."  Photo by Joan Marcus.
Maggie Lakis (Miranda Hillard) and Rob McClure (Daniel Hillard) and cast in “Mrs. Doubtfire.” Photo by Joan Marcus.

Great Leads

Leading the charge is the exceptional Rob McClure, who originated the role on Broadway and received Tony, Drama Desk, Drama League and Outer Critics Circle nominations. Real-life wife Maggie Lakis plays Miranda Hillard, the Sally Fields character now turned athleisure designer. The couple bookend the “extremes” of parenting styles beautifully, and it’s up to you to identify where you fit on the spectrum in between.

Pulling at the heartstrings of the cast is the trio of kids, played on opening night by Giselle Gutierrez (Lydia, clutching her iPhone), Cody Braverman (Christopher, juggling his soccer ball), and Kennedy Pitney (Natalie, clutching her teddy bear). Gutierrez is given the bulk of the stage time as the “responsible eldest daughter” that takes care of her younger siblings while balancing the emotions of her parents.

Musical Numbers

You might not think that Mrs. Doubtfire would have quite so much dancing or boisterous musical numbers, but the score by Wayne & Karey Kirkpatrick and choreography by Lorin Latarro provide the upbeat backdrop for what is, ultimately, a very silly premise for a story. Add in the duet of Frank and Andre (Aaron Kaburick and Nik Alexander) as Daniel’s brother and brother-in-law, who steal scenes as they transform Daniel into Mrs. Doubtfire, and you’ve got hysterical numbers like “Make Me a Woman.” 

 Rob McClure (Daniel Hillard). Photo by Joan Marcus. Photo by Joan Marcus
Rob McClure (Daniel Hillard) and cast in Mrs. Doubtfire. Photo by Joan Marcus.

Overall

Mrs. Doubtfire, both the person and the musical, is full of jokes and lessons, and at two and a half hours, has plenty of time to win you over.

Tickets to Mrs. Doubtfire

If you’re looking for a dose of 90’s nostalgia or a non-holiday family outing, be sure to catch this production before it leaves the Aronoff Center on December 17. Tickets are available at cincinnatiarts.org.