(l to r) Avery Sell, Jake Ryan Flynn, Analise Scarpaci, Jenn Gambatese and Rob McClure in 'Mrs. Doubtfire.'
Source: Joan Marcus

Rob McClure Makes Broadway's 'Mrs. Doubtfire' Worth Seeing

Matthew Wexler READ TIME: 3 MIN.

The latest movie-to-musical adaptation barrels onto Broadway with the arrival of "Mrs. Doubtfire," inspired by the 1993 film of the same name. Some might be hesitant to enter yet another cinematic world rehashed into a populous theatrical property, but its star Rob McClure leaves no doubt that this star warrants visitation.

The musical sticks reasonably closely to the screenplay, with McClure as Daniel Hillard, the kid-at-heart actor struggling to secure visitation rights amid a messy divorce from his all-business wife Miranda (played with earnest though not particularly inspired determination by Jenn Gambatese). Engaging the help of his gay brother Frank (Brad Oscar) and his husband Andre (J. Harrison Ghee) to create the persona of Mrs. Doubtfire, the dowdy but frisky nanny slowly wins everyone's hearts, and in doing so, offers Daniel a fresh perspective on his family's needs and the necessity to find a balance between his childlike sensibilities and adult responsibilities.

One of the challenges in reimagining the film, which featured an award-winning performance by Robin Williams, is to harness the intimacy that director Chris Columbus captured on celluloid and expand it to fill the 1,005-seat Stephen Sondheim Theatre. Director Jerry Zaks (his 25th Broadway production) ties it all together in a neat bow, keeping the action moving at a swift pace on Brian Ronan's San Francisco-inspired scenic design. Wayne and Kary Kirkpatrick's score, along with a book by Karey Kirkpatrick and John O'Farrell, lays down the gauntlet with several blow-out fantasy numbers that give free rein to Lorin Latarro's whimsical choreography.

Latarro, most recently represented Off-Broadway with "The Visitor" and the Broadway return of "Waitress" has a devilishly good time staging big productions like "Make Me a Woman," in which Daniel, Frank and Andre bring Mrs. Doubtfire to life but not before Lady Diana, Cher, Jackie O., Donna Summer, Grace Kelly and Eleanor Roosevelt make appearances. Daniel's manic attempt at making dinner ("Easy Peasy') is equally as thrilling with percussive, escalating choreography that includes spatchcocking a chicken, a commercial for IBS medication and a tap dance break.

(l to r) Brad Oscar, Rob McClure and J. Harrison Ghee in 'Mrs. Doubtfire.'
Source: Joan Marcus

Through it all, McClure never misses a beat, tearing in and out of prosthetics brilliantly designed by Tommy Kurzman, costumes by Catherine Zuber and hair by Brian Brown. McClure's unassuming rise to leading man has had an eclectic trajectory. Nominated for a Tony Award for the title role in 2013's short-lived "Chaplin" to "Beetlejuice," which shuddered when Broadway shut down due to the pandemic in March 2020, his affability often rises above the source material.

McClure's physicality and vocal gymnastics would mean little if it weren't also for his captivating sincerity. When the sham is finally up after a double-commitment at a restaurant, Daniel finds himself before the court in another custody hearing, saying, "What I did is nothing to be proud of, but it's not a crime." The performance within the performance is certainly praise-worthy.

"Mrs. Doubtfire" isn't without its hiccups. The second act meanders along, unable to withstand the breakneck pace it's set for itself until that climactic restaurant scene where Mrs. Doubtfire literally loses face.

Those with deep pockets looking for a family-friendly Broadway show will find plenty to enjoy in "Mrs. Doubtfire" – at least while McClure remains in the production.

"Mrs. Doubtfire"
Stephen Sondheim Theatre
124 West 43rd Street, NYC
Open-ended run

by Matthew Wexler

Matthew Wexler is EDGE's Senior Editor, Features & Branded Content. More of his writing can be found at www.wexlerwrites.com. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram at @wexlerwrites.

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