Mrs. Doubtfire smolders when it should sizzle

Fri. March 1, 2024 12:00 AM
by Jerry Nunn

Hellooo, Euphegenia Doubtfire is in Chi-town for a short stay and fans of the 1993 film will be glad to see her work her magic. Musical theater lovers will find many of the songs suitable to convey the plot with a few showstoppers.

Based on the 1987 novel Madame Doubtfire, a movie version was created and became a hit eventually winning an Academy Award for Best Makeup. The story surrounds a voice actor named Daniel Hillard who lives in San Francisco with a wife and three children. The couple divorces after a series of events and Daniel loses custody of his kids. To see them he dresses in drag as a nanny to spend time with his children and hijinks ensue until all is revealed.

Actor Robin Williams played the title role and a sequel was planned, but his death ended that project. The musical interpretation premiered in 2019 and landed on Broadway in 2021 after a pandemic delay.

This North American Tour rendition has the cast crossing over 30 cities and Rob McClure reprising his Tony Award-nominated role as the lead. He bolts out of the starting gate before the curtain rises at a frenetic pace akin to Williams' depiction of Daniel. Buckle up, Poppets, this is going to be a bumpy ride that at times hits and sometimes misses.

The queer representation revs up thanks to Daniel's brother in a salon scene seeking inspiration through icons in drag for the song “Make Me a Woman.”

Nik Alexander as Andre Mayer is stereotypical but unapologetic, and Aaron Kaburick as brother Frank Hillard seems lost while yelling out lines anytime he lies. It's a gimmick that doesn't work as well as tap dancing cooks in the kitchen and the 10 multiple Euphegenias.

McClure is a master of quick changes and many of his character voices hit the mark.

The movie references in the ‘90s included Sean Connery and Ronald Reagan, among others, but in 2024, we have The Simpsons and Donald Trump. The other script updates create more inclusion for the LGBTQ+ community and the final moments will warm ticket holders’ hearts.

There are some questionable choices though from the source material and this is where the musical doesn’t fire on all cylinders.

Miranda’s clothing line at M Body feels like a stretch and speaking of stretching, the athletic dancers in the background were distracting during the gym scene making it hard to focus on the fiery jealousy Daniel has towards Stu.

At the time of the cinematic release, Sally Field was exploring leading mother roles and Williams was on fire with a red-hot career. On the stage, duo Maggie Lakis and Rob McClure are real-life husband and wife. Whether this is stunt casting or dumb luck, it doesn't enhance the chemistry or who is suited for the role. Lakis is outsung by her onstage daughter Lydia Hillard portrayed by Giselle Gutierrez. Miranda's solo “Let Go” flounders and Lydia's “Just Pretend” flourishes. Gutierrez is one to watch with a promising future ahead of her and the performers playing her siblings excelled as well.

With the recent musical-to-movie fare such as The Color Purple and Mean Girls not heating up the box office, most likely a new cinematic version of Mrs. Doubtfire will not be happening anytime soon. Until then, audiences will have to seek this show out on tour.

Mrs. Doubtfire is not the sure-fire success that it attempts to be as a musical but there are enough bits to add up to a fun romp at the theater.

Mrs. Doubtfire sweeps in James M. Nederlander Theatre, 24 West Randolph Street from now until March 10 for this limited engagement. Visit for tickets before this run-by fruiting fable flies out of town.