Mrs. Doubtfire The Musical Review | Opera House | Manchester
The bittersweet comedy is back as a sparkling new musical production, offering a colourful spectacle shaped around the 1993 hit film.
A children’s comedy that normalises divorce, touches on the toll it takes on the children and highlights the story from a father’s perspective was a shocking rarity for the 90s, but Mrs Doubtfire was able to thread that needle. Flash forward 29 years and now Gabriel Vick (Daniel Hillard / Mrs. Euphegenia Doubtfire) is back as the beloved nanny, adding layers of prosthetics and hoping to add new layers to the beloved tale, with a cosy musical revival. Built for sentimental audiences eager to relive the Robin Williams dramedy, Mrs Doubtfire follows the intimate story of divorce from the perspective of an ambitious but inappropriate father.
We follow Daniel as he is rocked by his recent divorce and a court ruling that states he requires full-time employment and stable housing before being given part-time custody of his three children. While Daniel scrambles to find a job suitable enough for his high standards, he does manage to find a surprising side hustle as his children’s nanny. Putting to work his qualifications as a voice-over actor, disguised by his makeup artist and brother Frank (Cameron Blakely), and clearing the low childminder bar by actually liking children.
Mrs Doubtfire is a dazzling production that infuses its impractical storyline with marvellous choreography, an everchanging set and plenty of insane situations that require Vick to slip in and out of his new face. The prosthetics used are awesomely distracting as Mrs Doubtfire face resembles a Bo’Selecta or Spitting Image character. However, Vick’s performance within the mask and his ability to sell his emotions to the live Opera House audience is what carries the production through its over-the-top storyline.
I have personally always identified more with the hard-done ex-wife and mother, Miranda (Laura Tebbutt). The relatable Miranda’s love of labels and plan to keep her children out of prison on a school night seemed far more admirable and relatable than her freewheeling ex-husband who appears to be a completely uncompromising adult. This production gives Tebbutt the space to voice her frustrations with a fantastic solo of Let Go and focuses more on her perspective, rather than the film’s reliance on the audience's love of Robin Williams that helped carry the emotional weight of the movie's difficult material. Despite Daniel’s initial resistance to change, he seems emboldened by his new wig and prosthetics that allow him to look inwardly at his own actions and work to become a better father and partner.
The live production appears to be aware that many of the deceptive messages of its original film have fallen out of fashion as Daniel is basically a victim of his own circumstances. The updated Mrs Doutfire musical is now spread with an assortment of slapstick and upbeat tracks such as Make Me A Woman and Easy Peasy, which alongside director, Jerry Zaks rainbow-coloured settings remove any edge from the dramady. Vick brings his own mesmerising performance to the unique role, weaving together some Mary Poppin’s sincerity amongst the overzealous comedy and Zaks’s production offers audiences plenty of antics, distractions and light-hearted moments with few concerns about updating the original story.
Packed with a collection of upbeat original tracks, Mrs Doubtfire is a surprising visual feast and its rollercoaster of a storyline remains comfortably familiar to those looking to reignite their love of the film.
Tickets are available via the ATG link