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The KeyBank Broadway Series ‘Mrs. Doubtfire’ is a nice mid-winter romp




To say the least, it is always a challenge in transferring a movie into a Broadway show. What makes it even more daunting is when you tackle a beloved favorite film of the 90s that starred one of the greatest comedic actors of all times.


I am talking about the 1993 comedy film “Mrs. Doubtfire” that was directed by Chris Columbus and written by Randi Mayem Singer and Leslie Dixon. The film starred Robin Williams (who also produced the film) with Sally Field, Pierce Brosnan, Harvey Fierstein and Robert Proksy. The movie was based on the 1987 novel “Madame Doubtfire” by Anne Fine.


It took 22 years before the film was considered for a Broadway musical adaptation with Wayne Kirkpatrick and Karey Kirkpatrick doing music and lyrics with Book by Karey Kirkpatrick and John O’Farrell. In 2018 writing once again began and after a May, 2019 reading it made it to a Seattle, Washington premiere on November 26, 2019. It was then off to Broadway with previews on March 9, 2020 at the Stephen Sondheim Theatre but the opening was delayed due to Covid. After previews resumed on October 21, 2021 the show opened on December 5, 2021, went on hiatus from January 10, 2022 to April 14, 2022 when it reopened only to close on May 29, 2022 after 43 previews and 83 regular performances.


Man-child Daniel Hillard (Rob McClure) is in trouble again. While he is a “super dad” to his three charming children. He has lost yet another voice-over job by trying to bring too much talent to a mundane announcement. His up and coming wife, Miranda (Maggie Lakis) has grown tired of the antics and has just one more nerve to be stepped on. This final straw happens when Daniel reorganizes a canceled birthday party for his son, Christopher (Cody Braverman) who is failing Math. The party goes horribly wrong when a mistakenly hired stripper and his wife arrive simultaneously.


Daniel ends up in divorce court and because he has no job, home or prospects is separated from his three children, 12 year old Christopher, 14 year old Lydia (Giselle Gutierrez) and 5 year old Natalie (Emerson Mae Chan). Being as how Daniel is totally devoted to his kids this news nearly breaks him. The judge gives Daniel three months to get his life together.


Daniel manages to find a low rent apartment and a job as a janitor at a local TV station. When he finds that his ex is planning to hire a nanny due to her busy professional schedule he hacks into her phone and fake calls a number of unsuitable applicants for the job using his talent for voices. His last call is as the matronly Mrs. Doubtfire whose calm and traditional manner impresses Miranda who asks to meet.


Desperately, Daniel then shows up at his brother Frank’s (Aaron Kaburick) work place where he and his husband, Andre Mayem (Nik Alexander) work magic on actors using wigs, prosthetic, make-up and costumes. Daniel convinces the two to “Make Me a Woman” thus Mrs. Doubtfire appears in the flesh complete with fat suit, mask, glasses, wig and frumpy dress.


Things start to look up for the hapless divorcee as his children begin to respond to Mrs. Doubtfire’s more orderly manner of living. With the introduction of Mrs. Sellner (Jodi Kimura) as the overly intrusive court appointed case worker things are headed south in a hurry. Add to this the two older children discovering Doubtfire’s real identity and a birthday bash at a Flamenco themed restaurant where Doubtfire and Daniel must appear at the same time and things come to a comic head.


As for the touring production, it has its moments both good and not so good. To be honest, the two and a half hour show starts off slow and takes its sweet time to build momentum. In fact it is not until the fifth number (including the Overture) that things really start to kick off. Happily, from there the show has its legs and dashes off to a satisfying intermission with the fun taking off in the second act clear to the end.


The cast is superb with Rob McClure as Daniel building on his Broadway experience with the role of Mrs. Doubtfire. He does voices and has clever little clips that keep the attention of the audience. One of the “stars” is the stage transformation of Daniel into Mrs. D that happens over 30 times over the course of the show. Each one is remarkable. Maggie Lakis as Miranda Hillard does well as the long suffering wife without being mean. The kids, Giselle Gutierrez as Lydia, Cody Braverman as Christopher and Emerson Mae Chan as Natalie are cute with out being saccharine about it. They simply act like kids. Aaron Kaburick as brother Frank and Nik Alexander as his husband bring their own brand of comic relief but the “yelling when lying” gag gets stretched out a bit. Lastly, David Hibbard as Mr. Jolly plays the clueless daytime children’s host to a T.


It is only when you see the orchestra listing of only four members that you begin to appreciate the musical accomplishment. The many dance sequences are equally entertaining and exciting. The production is directed by Jerry Zaks (who also directed the Broadway show) with choreography by Lorin Latarro.


With a collection of Broadwayish numbers, disco, rock and roll, Flamenco and more you will be solidly entertained by this show. Add to that the variety of dance numbers and it becomes even better. It is a show full of heart with a strong family theme that the entire family will enjoy. HELOOOOOOOO!


The KeyBank Broadway Series touring production of Mrs. “Doubtfire” will be on stage in the Connor Palace Theatre at Playhouse Square through January 28, 2024. For more information and to order tickets go to https://www.playhousesquare.org/ or call (216) 241-6000


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Who is Mark Horning?

Over the course of my life I have worked a variety of jobs including newspapers, retail camera sales and photography. Eight years ago I embarked on yet another career as writer. This included articles concerning sports and cultural events in Cleveland, Ohio as well reviews of the many theatrical productions around town. These days are spent photographing professional dance groups, theater companies and various galas and festivals as well as attending various stage performances and posting reviews about them.  

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