The beloved film makes a perfect transition from screen to stage in this heartwarming and affectionate take on the story.
I have to admit when I first head that there was a Mrs. Doubtfire musical heading to the stage, I was initially concerned and felt instantly protective of the film ( as I’m sure that many others were as well) – could they take the sheer joy of the film and really replicate it for the stage? Now that I have actually seen it for myself – I can absolutely confirm that everyone involved with this joyous show has done the story complete justice.
Re-tweaking the story slightly to feature more contemporary references as well featuring Daniel’s brother and partner a lot more, it still has the same feel and vibe of the film in a pleasing way that retains the heart and soul of the story. The book by Karey Kirkpatrick and John O’Farrell is witty and light, while retaining many of the classic elements of the film (that guinness joke always makes me chuckle) including the scene in which Daniel tries to impress Wanda Sellner with his impressions it also allows us to see on a deeper level in many ways the love Daniel has for kids and the reasons for his actions might be misguided but his heart is in the right place.
This combined with Wayne Kirkpatrick and Karey Kirkpatrick’s music and lyrics gets the balance between comedy and sincerity just right. Songs such as the heartfelt ‘What the Hell’ sung by the kids shows the emotional impact the divorce is having on them, while ‘Make Me A Woman’ is a fun song that brings to mind something similar to Kinky Boots. The songs successfully the emotional core that is important to draw audiences in and relate to the characters. ‘Just Pretend’ is a particularly lovely duet between father and daughter that does catch the throat.
Directed by Jerry Zaks, is filled with liveliness and joyousness from start to finish, helped by Lorin Latarro’s choreography that really makes the scenes come to life with ‘I’m Rockin’ Now’ paying nice homage to the 90’s film but with a modern twist. Meanwhile, I have to say how they did the scene for ‘He Lied to Me’ in which Daniel has to change on multiple occasions has just as strong choreography to it when it could all so go easily wrong as is the memorable moment him switching between personas in his own flat to keep Wanda Sellner off his case.
At the centre of it all, Gabriel Vick as Daniel/Mrs Doubtfire is truly impressive in the role to the point that I feel if Robin Williams was alive and saw it – I would like to think he would be impressed. Vick makes the character completely his own – never trying to to replicate Robin Williams’s performance, embracing the comical side to the character but equally enhancing the sense of frustration and pain he feels about being separated from his kids. Carla Dixon-Hernandez is an utter joy as Lydia, highlighting the character’s love for her dad (beautifully highlighted in their duet ‘Just Pretend’) but also her awareness that he needs to do better to support them. Marcus Collins and Cameron Blakely as Andre and Frank are wonderfully incorporated into Daniel’s antics. On the night I attended, I saw Vicki Lee Taylor in the role of Miranda and I really did get a sense of the pain and frustration her character feels – but I feel though her character is underused as a whole – however, Taylor really did make her character feel relatable.
Overall, Mrs.Doubtfire as a musical is simply a heartwarming story about family and trying to adjust to the splitting of it in the wake of a divorce, brought to life with great sensitivity, fun and entertainment that will chase any blues you’re feeling away.
By Emma Clarendon
Mrs. Doubtfire continues to play at the Shaftesbury Theatre. To book tickets click here.