Monday, May 2, 2022

Broadway Theater Review: Mrs. Doubtfire

 

Austin Elle Fisher(Natalie Hillard),Tyler Wladis(Christopher Hillard),Analise Scarpaci(Lydia Hillard),Jenn Gambatese(Miranda Hillard) and Rob McClure(Daniel Hillard as Euphegenia Doubtfire)

Mrs. Doubtfire
Book by Karey Kirkpatrick and John O’Farrell
Music and Lyrics by Wayne Kirkpatrick and Karey Kirkpatrick
Directed by Jerry Zaks
Roundabout Theatre Company
Stephen Sondheim Theatre 

By Lauren Yarger

Hey, poppets! Get on over the Sondheim Theatre for one of the most fun, family-friendly musicals on Broadway. It’s Roundabout Theatre Company’s Mrs. Doubtfire inspired by the 1993 movie starring Robin Williams with book, music and lyrics from the team who brought us the fun, zany comedy musical Something Rotten!.

Here Rob McClure (who delighted in Something Rotten! and Chaplin)  stars as Daniel Hillard, a down-on-his luck father who loses custody of his children when his wife, Miranda (Jenn Gambatese),finally gives up and divorces him. Her career is just taking off with a fashion line for working/active women, so she needs a nanny to help with the kids, Lydia (a really terrific, full voiced Analise Scarpace), Christopher (Titus Landegger and Tyler Wladis) and Natalie (Austin Elle Fisher and Ava Gail Prince).

With the help of his brother, Frank (Brad Oscar, another Something’s Rotten alum), and his husband, Andre Mayem (J. Harrison Ghee), Daniel transforms himself into a grandmotherly woman from Scotland, Euphegenia Doubtfire, and applies for the job. The normally chaotic Hillard home is transformed into well-run, love-filled haven under the no-nonsense, loving housekeeper. Miranda discovers a new friend and confidant in Mrs. Doubtfire and Daniel is forced to hear the truth about his marriage and his ex wife’s growing affection for the handsome and rich Stuart Dunmire (Mark EVans) who is boosting Miranda’s career.

Desperate to take control of his life and have one more shot at being in his kids’ lives, Daniel takes a janitor’s job at a local TV station where Mr. Jolly (a side-splittingly funny Peter Bartlett) does his best to entertain children. Free-spirited Daniel gets a crack at his own show if he can just figure out how to make that work while juggling being Mrs. Doubtfire and Daniel Hillard while keeping suspicious social worker Wanda Sellner (a fantastic Charity Angél Dawson thrilling with a heavenly voice) at bay.

As you might imagine, chaos ensues and there is a drive-by fruiting (Book by Karey Kirkpatrick and John O’Farrell). It’s really a lot of laughs with the king of fun, big musicals, Jerry Zaks, at the helm. Some of the most iconic parts of the movie are in there if not as excellently executed and some musical numbers seem superfluous (Music and Lyrics by Wayne Kirkpatrick and Karey Kirkpatrick). Choreography is by Lorin Latarro. I remember thinking the music was pleasant, but I honestly couldn’t remember a tune after leaving the theater. 

A few politically-correct changes to the script have Daniel’s child frightened discovering Dad's face comes off instead of male parts (instead of female parts) in the rest room, and Frank and his husband are touted as the epitome of a happily married couple looking to adopt a child (instead of the brother being a rather zany drag queen). The big theme and the ending number is all about forgiving, accepting yourself and being happy “As Long as There is Love.” 

McClure is terrific in the role and no comparison with Williams in necessary. He makes the role his own through a lot of hard work in a high-action role where he rarely is off stage (I saw him vamp through a tech glitch on top of everything else) and a lot of very fast costume changes. His morph from Daniel to Mrs. Doubtfire and back again is made possible by some costuming from designer Catherine Zuber and Make-up and Prosthetics Designer Tommy Kurzman. All of the attention and effort must have gone into the iconic look of Mrs. Doubtfire, however, as the rest of the costumes are surprisingly sub-par and unflattering. 

It's a fun time at the theater and I saw lot of kids the day I attended, though I might suggest a PG-13 rating. Mrs. Doubtfire entertains for two hours and 30 minutes at the Stephen Sondheim Theatre, 124 W 43rd St., NYC. mrsdoubtfirebroadway.com 

Additional casting:
Cameron Adams, Calvin L. Cooper, Kaleigh Cronin, Maria Dalanno, Casey Garvin, David Hibbard, KJ Hippensteel, Aaron Kaburick, Jodi Kimura, Erica Mansfield, Brian Martin, Alexandra Matteo, Sam Middleton, LaQuet Sharnell Pringle, Akilah Sailers, Jaquez André Sims, Addison Takefman, Travis Waldschmidt and Aléna Watters.

Additional Credits:
Lighting Designer Philip S. Rosenberg; Sound Designer Brian Ronan; Hair and Wig Designer David Brian Brown.


FAMILY-FRIENDLY FACTORS

-- Men dress as women
-- Revealing costumes

-- Homosexual partners

COVID PROTOCOLS
Masks Required: Everyone in the theatre must wear acceptable face coverings at all times, including during the show, except while eating or drinking in designated locations. All face coverings must cover the nose and mouth and comply with the CDC guidelines for acceptable face coverings.

For more information, visit shubert.nyc/about-us/covid-19/

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Our reviews are professional reviews written without a religious bias. At the end of them, you can find a listing of language, content or theological issues that Christians might want to know about when deciding which shows to see.

** Mature indicates that the show has posted an advisory because of content. Usually this means I would recommend no one under the age of 16 attend.

Theater Critic Lauren Yarger

Theater Critic Lauren Yarger

My Bio

Lauren Yarger has written, directed and produced numerous shows and special events for both secular and Christian audiences. She co-wrote a Christian musical version of “A Christmas Carol” which played to sold-out audiences of over 3,000 in Vermont and was awarded the Vermont Bessie (theater and film awards) for “People’s Choice for Theatre.” She also has written two other dinner theaters, sketches for church services and devotions for Christian artists. Her play concept, "From Reel to Real: The Jennifer O'Neill Story" was presented as part of the League of professional Theatre Women's Julia's reading Room Series in New York in February 2018.

Yarger trained for three years in the Broadway League’s Producer Development Program, completed the Commercial Theater Institute's Producing Three-Day Intensive and other training and produced a one-woman musical about Mary Magdalene that toured nationally and closed with an off-Broadway run.

She was a Fellow at the National Critics Institute at the O'Neill Theater Center in Waterford, CT. She writes reviews of Broadway and off-Broadway theater (the only ones you can find in the US with an added Christian perspective) at http://reflectionsinthelight.blogspot.com/.

She is editor of The Connecticut Arts Connection (http://ctarts.blogspot.com), an award-winning website featuring theater and arts news for the state. She is a contributing editor for BroadwayWorld.com. She previously served as theater reviewer for the Manchester Journal-Inquirer, Connecticut theater editor for CurtainUp.com and as Connecticut and New York reviewer for American Theater Web.

She is a Co-Founder of the Connecticut Chapter of the League of Professional Theatre Women. She is a former vice preseint and voting member of The Drama Desk.

She is a freelance writer and playwright (member Dramatists Guild of America). She is a member if the The Outer Critics Circle (event manager for the annual awards ceremony), The American Theater Critics Association, The League of Professional Theatre Women and the Drama League. She served as a judge for the SDX Awards presented by the Society of Professional Journalists.

Yarger is a book reviewer for Publishers Weekly and freelances for other sites. She is a member of the National Book Critics Circle.

She also is a member of the Episcopal Actors' Guild, the NY Public Library for the Performing Arts and The O'Neill Theatre Center..

A former newspaper editor and graduate of the University of Missouri’s School of Journalism, Yarger also worked in arts management for the Bushnell Center for the Performing Arts, the Hartford Symphony Orchestra and served for nine years as the Executive Director of Masterwork Productions, Inc. She lives with her husband in West Granby, CT. They have two adult children.

Copyright

All material is copyright 2008- 2018 by Lauren Yarger. Reviews and articles may not be reprinted without permission. Contact reflectionsinthelight@gmail.com

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Key to Content Notes:

God's name taken in vain -- means God or Jesus is used in dialogue without speaking directly to or about them.

Language -- means some curse words are used. "Minor" usually means the words are not too strong or that it only occurs once or twice throughout the show.

Strong Language -- means some of the more heavy duty curse words are used.

Nudity -- means a man or woman's backside, a man's lower front or a woman's front are revealed.

Scantily clad -- means actors' private areas are technically covered, but I can see a lot of them.

Sexual Language -- means the dialogue contains sexually explicit language but there's no action.

Sexual Activity -- means a man and woman are performing sexual acts.

Adultery -- Means a married man or woman is involved sexually with someone besides their spouse. If this is depicted with sexual acts on stage, the list would include "sexual activity" as well.

Sex Outside of Marriage -- means a man and woman are involved sexually without being married. If this is depicted sexually on stage, the list would include "sexual activity" as well.

Homosexuality -- means this is in the show, but not physically depicted.

Homosexual activity -- means two persons of the same sex are embracing/kissing. If they do more than that, the list would include "sexual activity" as well.

Cross Dresser -- Means someone is dressing as the opposite sex. If they do more than that on stage the listing would include the corresponding "sexual activity" and/or "homosexual activity" as well.

Cross Gender -- A man is playing a female part or a woman is playing a man's part.

Suggestive Dancing -- means dancing contains sexually suggestive moves.

Derogatory (category added Fall 2012) Language or circumstances where women are referred to or treated in a negative and demeaning manner.

Other content matters such as torture, suicide or rape will be noted, with details revealed only as necessary in the review itself.

The term "throughout" added to any of the above means it happens many times throughout the show.

Reviewing Policy

I receive free seats to Broadway and Off-Broadway shows made available to all voting members of the Outer Critics Circle and The Drama Desk, the two professional critics organizations with journalists covering NY theater. Journalistically, I provide an unbiased review and am under no obligation to make positive statements. Sometimes shows do not make tickets available to reviewers. If these are shows my readers want to know about (I review all Broadway shows and pertinent Off-Broadway shows), I will purchase a ticket. If a personal friend is involved in a production, I'll let you know, but it won't influence a review. If I feel there is a conflict, I won't review their portion of the production.

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