REVIEW: Mrs. Doubtfire

Of all the movies to adapt for the stage, could Mrs. Doubtfire survive without the singular talent of Robin Williams?  Entering the theater for “Mrs. Doubtfire: The Musical” with a healthy amount of skepticism, rooted in a deep appreciation for the classic film and informed by a history of other lackluster movie-to-musical adaptations, wariness was quickly replaced with genuine surprise and delight.  It’s all about the casting!

“Mrs. Doubtfire” is a 1993 comedy film directed by Chris Columbus (Home Alone, The Help). The story revolves around Daniel Hillard, a talented voice actor who is going through a divorce with his wife, Miranda. Daniel loves his three children dearly, but due to his irresponsible behavior and lack of a stable job, he is not granted custody. In an attempt to spend more time with his kids, Daniel disguises himself as a British housekeeper named Mrs. Doubtfire and applies for the job of taking care of his own children in Miranda’s home. With the help of his makeup artist brother Frank and his partner, Daniel transforms into the lovable and strict Mrs. Doubtfire.

In the lead role of Daniel/Mrs. Doubtfire), Rob McClure’s performance is a multifaceted showcase of talent.  At first, I questioned the strength of his singing voice, but any reservations were unequivocally dispelled by the show’s conclusion. McClure’s portrayal demands not only acting and singing skills, but also a remarkable array of talents including vocal impersonations, tap dancing, ventriloquism, and break dancing.  Robin Williams left difficult shoes to fill, but like a set of bespoke size 12 pumps, McClure slides right in.

While it’s customary for movie-to-musical transitions to be burdened by forgettable musical numbers–inserted solely for the purpose of meeting runtime expectations–Mrs. Doubtfire: The Musical manages to transcend this common pitfall through the numerous comedic moments. The sheer abundance of filler songs, which might be perceived as a flaw, is easy enough to forgive considering the brisk and efficient manner in which it moves the story along. While the production manages to neatly tie up all of the various storylines by the end, that doesn’t mean the show wouldn’t benefit from trimming 15 to 20 minutes from the 2 hour and 35 minute runtime.
In the end, Mrs. Doubtfire: The Musical successfully navigates the challenging terrain of adaptation (and quick costume changes!), offering a captivating performance that honors the beloved source material and takes the audience on a wild ride where hilarity often ensues.

Mrs. Doubtfire is at the Orpheum Theatre in Minneapolis through December 24, 2023. Tickets start at $40.

DEAL ALERT: Student Rush tickets are available.
-$40 cash only
-2 ticket limit per valid Student/Educator ID
-Starts 2 hours prior to show in person at the Orpheum Theatre
-Line forms outside the theatre

Photo by Joan Marcus