October 19, 2023
Review: Musical 'Mrs. Doubtfire' Is Good, Family Fun
Will Demers READ TIME: 2 MIN.
Providence Performing Arts Center continues its 2023/24 season with a family-friendly musical based on another comedy film, this time one that follows the antics of Daniel Hillard (Rob McClure) and his frustrated wife Miranda (Maggie Lakis) as they navigate divorce and child custody. Daniel is an out of work voice actor whose antics make him a "cool dad" to his kids; but his wife is frustrated by his lack of commitment. Then while Miranda seeks a nanny for the kids in dad's absence, Daniel has a plan to see them, just not as himself.
"Mrs. Doubtfire" is based on the 1993 film directed by Chris Columbus ("Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone") and starring Robin Williams and Sally Field as Daniel and Miranda. This musical version premiered in Seattle at its 5th Avenue Theatre in 2019; Broadway was not far behind as the show premiered on December 5th, 2021 with McClure as Daniel Hillard. Reprising his Tony Award-nominated role here is a rare treat; he is a natural mimic with voices which is apparent from scene one of this fun production.
Adding a level of realness to the production is that McClure's wife Maggie Lakis plays Miranda, and her buttoned-up delivery solidly compliments his wild antics. Also, Lakis is no stranger to national tours having appeared in "Something Rotten" and "Avenue Q." The three Hillard children are Lydia (Giselle Gutierrez), the oldest, Christopher (Cody Braverman), the middle child, and Natalie (Emerson Mae Chan), the youngest of the three. Gutierrez is a strong vocalist and Braverman has a razor sharp comic edge. Chan is an absolute delight as the littlest Hillard.
The musical was brought to life by brothers Wayne and Karey Kirkpatrick (score) and John O'Farrell and Karey (book.) It's directed by Jerry Zaks (an actor in his own right and director of "House of Blue Leaves" and "Anything Goes" on Broadway) and choreographed by Lorin Lattaro. David Brian is the hair and wig designer and sound design is by Brian Ronan and Craig Cassidy.
This production is filled with many references to the movie it's based on but somehow manages to stay fresh and relevant to our modern sensibilities; the early '90s were a vastly different landscape. McClure's history with the role fits him like a glove (or wig, if you will).
The updates aren't too jarring and actually make for a fun ride, even if you are a huge fan of the 1993 film version. Here Daniel is just as heartbroken over having to have supervised visits with his children and both Lakis and McClure imbue some heartfelt emotion into their performances. The rest of this cast is pretty solid, too, with Daniel's brother Aaron Kaburick and his partner Andre (Nik Alexander) giving us the most fun transformation in "Make Me a Woman," which is probably the most memorable of numbers. Lots of visual touches make the show, but at its heart, it's all about family, and it's a sweet, sentimental and very funny ride!
"Mrs. Doubtfire" is running through October 22nd at the Providence Performing Arts Center (PPAC), 220 Weybosset Street, Providence, Rhode Island 02903. For information or tickets call 401-421-2787 or visit www.ppacri.org.