The show had a rough old time of it on Broadway: it started previews in early March, 2020, shut down for a year and a half, finally opened in December 2021, went on an omicron-related hiatus for nine weeks, then closed after mustering just a single month’s extra run.
Clearly it was extremely unlucky in many respects, although reviews also weren’t great, with many critics expressing unease at its comedic depiction of cross-dressing – the plot revolving as it does around Daniel Hillard, a divorced out-of-work actor who poses as Scottish nanny Euphegenia Doubtfire in order to be closer to his kids. Whether these reservations revolved around transphobia or not I’m unsure, however, surely the point is the character of Daniel is not transgender. In fact he has more in common with a drag queen who dresses “as a woman” for purposes of entertainment.
Hillard loses a custody battle for his children and creates the character of Mrs. Doubtfire who businesswoman and ex-wife Miranda gratefully and unsuspectingly hires as the kids’ nanny. He enlists the help of his showbusiness make-up artist brother and his partner (the superb double act of Cameron Blakely as Frank and Marcus Collins as Andre) to bring his alter-ego to life.
For anyone who knows and loves the film, this musical adaptation really does have all the best bits of the story – with the added joy of a tremendous ensemble cast.
Gabriel Vick steps into Mrs. Doubtfire’s shoes in this production. He’s vivacious on stage, and his impressions are hilarious. As the playful man-child with whom we all empathise Vick sensibly decides not to impersonate Robin Williams as Daniel. Yes, his Mrs. D is similar as it should be however Vick has enough charm, ability and personality to make the role his own. A superb performance.
Elsewhere, the cast members don’t make the same mistake as those in Back to the Future. The film characters are skilfully represented here but they are certainly no carbon copy resulting in far deeper characterisations and exploration of the script to wonderful comedic effect.
Carla Dixon-Hernandez is a stand out as eldest daughter, Lydia, who at first resents Mrs. Doubtfire’s presence but soon realises that life in the Hillard home is far better with her and there is excellent support from Laura Tebbutt as Miranda, Ian Talbot as stale children’s TV presenter Mr Jolly and Micha Richardson as Janet Lundy, the TV producer who spots Hillard’s potential.
Overall, ignore the sceptics, ignore the ‘transphobic’ comments that will inevitably and predictably be made by certain critics and enjoy everything that is wonderful about this production. Go and have a fun night out!
Reviewer: Patric Kearns