Hellooooo, Fort Lauderdale—Mrs. Doubtfire Has Arrived!

Picture this: the year is 2011. My local Blockbuster just recently closed its doors, which means that my family’s ritual of picking out a few movies on Fridays after school has unfortunately been cut short. Luckily, we’ve found a welcome replacement for our tradition: the $5 movies section at Target. Almost every week, my brother and I will rifle through the bargain bins, or our mom will find something to surprise us with. I’ll discover what will soon become so many of my comfort movies here, and this particular time is no different—the time my mom added a little film called Mrs. Doubtfire to our cart.

What started as “Just trust me, you’ll love it” quickly became a go-to watch in our family’s movie night lineup. So when this classic transitioned from the screen to the stage, now making a national tour stop at the Broward Center, I was especially thrilled by the opportunity to see it. And take it from me: whether Mrs. Doubtfire was a childhood favorite of yours, too, or you’re just being introduced to it now, you won’t be disappointed. With the warmth of a well-loved comfort movie, the wit of a hilarious sitcom, and the wow factor of a dazzling musical, this show is an absolute must-see.

Directed by the award-winning Jerry Zaks, Mrs. Doubtfire begins in a creative and perhaps unexpected way: with a fourth-wall break. The pre-show announcement revolves around voice actor Daniel (Rob McClure) at work recording his own pre-show announcement, demonstrating his talent for “doing voices” to tell the audience members to silence their cell phones. This soon leads to an argument with his own director, setting up the opening number “That’s Daniel.” The audience is already laughing just a few minutes into the show, and that won’t stop anytime soon. We soon meet the rest of Daniel’s family unit—his serious-minded, organized wife, Miranda (Maggie Lakis), and their three children, strong-willed and responsible Lydia (Giselle Gutierrez), fun-loving and athletic Christopher “Chris” (played in this performance by Cody Braverman), and sweet and precocious Natalie (played in this performance by Emerson Mae Chan).

Photos provided by Broadway Across America.

As the story unfolds, Daniel’s playful yet flippant personality begins to grate on Miranda, and she can no longer write off his antics with a simple “That’s Daniel.” The two divorce early on in the show, and much to Daniel’s dismay, Miranda is granted sole custody of the children. Joint custody will hinge on him finding a stable job and a suitable place to live within the next few months. In the meantime, Miranda decides to hire a nanny…and Daniel comes up with a plan. He’ll become Mrs. Euphegenia Doubtfire, a lovable Scottish nanny who specializes in the “education and entertainment of children.” Can he balance the charade of Mrs. Doubtfire with scoring the job of his dreams as a kids’ TV host, receiving full custody of his children once more, and showing Miranda he can be serious after all? 

It’s near impossible to pick a favorite performance from Mrs. Doubtfire, since in my eyes, the entire cast did a fantastic job. Rob McClure has been with the production from its workshop days to Broadway to, now, the National Tour, and he completely makes the role his own. He’ll have you in stitches one second, and in tears the next, giving a performance that’s equal parts entertaining and touching. McClure and leading lady Maggie Lakis are happily married in real life—but you’d never know it onstage, thanks to their compelling, convincing performances. Lakis shines in her role, as do Gutierrez, Braverman, and Chan. I especially enjoyed how Giselle Gutierrez portrayed Lydia, with tons of heart (and a beautiful voice!), and her special bond with Daniel is wonderful to see.

The side characters are just as vivid and fun to watch, from Frank Hillard (Aaron Kaburick), Daniel’s brother, and his husband Andre (Nik Alexander), the duo of makeup artists who help bring Mrs. Doubtfire to life, to Wanda Sellner (Romelda Teron Benjamin), the court liaison officer whose check-ins on Daniel’s progress are always laugh-out-loud funny, and Janet Lundy (Jodi Kimura), the deadpan children’s TV producer. Even Stuart Dunmire (Leo Roberts), Miranda’s new boyfriend and arguably, the show’s villain, becomes a character the audience can’t help but love to hate. The cast captures everything original movie fans may have appreciated about those characters, while also bringing something refreshing, unique, and new to their parts. In just under three hours, you get to know, love, and often sympathize with these characters, and that’s in no small part due to the work of those behind the roles.

Brothers Karey and Wayne Kirkpatrick have created a score that will surely have you tapping your feet in your seat, with dance moves to match, crafted by choreographer Lorin Latarro. Particular standout numbers include the disco-inspired “Make Me a Woman,” where Daniel becomes Mrs. Doubtfire with the help of Frank, Andre, and some iconic women in history, the rock-infused “What the Hell,” where Lydia, Chris, and Natalie express their frustrations with what their family has become, the jazzy “Easy Peasy,” where Mrs. Doubtfire flexes her cooking muscles under the guidance of the Internet and a talented tap ensemble, and the fabulous flamenco number “He Lied to Me,” which will have you on the edge of your seat throughout (no spoilers here).

The set design and lighting design are simple but effective, as David Korins and Philip Rosenberg respectively transport viewers to San Francisco and all the show’s different locales, from a bustling TV set to the cozy Hillard residence. Additionally, I would be remiss not to shout out the show’s Hair and Wig Designer, David Brian Brown, and Costume Designer, Catherine Zuber, both of whose incredible work assists in making Mrs. Doubtfire (and, of course, everyone else in Mrs. Doubtfire’s life) truly come alive. 

Photos provided by Broadway Across America.

Needless to say, Mrs. Doubtfire is a crowd-pleaser with undeniable universal appeal. I saw an audience of all ages become completely enthralled by this story of the importance of family, and how family can take on so many different meanings throughout a person’s life. It’s the perfect excuse for a trip to the theater, possibly even with your own family. In the words of Mrs. Doubtfire herself, “Toodle-oo, poppets”—you don’t want to be late to the next performance!

Mrs. Doubtfire runs through April 21 at the Broward Center’s Au-Rene Theater. Tickets can be purchased here.

You may also like

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *