Mrs Doubtfire

“All in all, this is a musical comedy for all the family and should do well. It’s a big fat yes from me!"

Thirty years from Robin William’s portrayal of Mrs Doubtfire on the silver screen, Mrs Doubtfire has crossed the pond to take up residence at the Shaftesbury Theatre in London’s West End. The show is packed with fast moving, quick changes – not only from the leading actor, but also by the set, the ensemble and indeed the variety of music styles employed to tell the story.

The story leans heavily, as you would expect, on the 1993 movie, with some interesting updates. The gags are topical and seem to travel back and forth across the Atlantic without any sense of irony or apology.

Out of work actor, Daniel Hillard (also known as Mrs Doubtfire) is desperate to see his children after his wife has filed for divorce. He decides the only way to do this is to disguise himself as Scottish nanny Mrs Doubtfire. Gabriel Vick effortlessly takes on and conquers this hugely challenging role requiring multiple quick changes and a smorgasbord of impressions and vocal skills. Of course, from the beginning we are all waiting to see the transformation, which somewhat disappointingly in the first instance takes place off stage. The use of prosthetics is remarkable and although at first the mask looks somewhat grotesque you soon become accustomed to it – this is Mrs Doubtfire. As the show progresses the transformations become quicker and quicker and the quick-change techniques are revealed to the audiences delight and amazement.

Frank (Daniel’s brother) and his flamboyant husband Andre create Mrs Doubtfire’s look – but also create a sense of fun whenever they appear of stage. There is a wonderful use of a running gag were Frank who cannot lie quietly which never fails to amuse the audience, whoever delivers it.

The whole ensemble is tight in its delivery. Credit goes to Carla Dixon-Hernandez who plays Daniel’s eldest daughter Lydia, she manages to capture the attitude and the vulnerability of a teenager with some great vocals. In the performance I saw, Frankie Treadaway played the younger brother Christopher exceptionally well. Treadaway managed to act throughout the piece (not just delivering his lines) in a way that hides any sense of “I’m a drama school kid” often seen in other shows – I predict he has a great future treading the boards.

The music of Mrs Doubtfire is eclectic in style which has the disappointing effect that very little of it is easily remembered beyond the theatre doors. This said I loved “A Big Fat No” in which Mrs Doubtfire finds herself surrounded by well-pumped and perfectly harmonised gym bunnies. Another musicals moment is the nod to the dream sequence of the old Rogers and Hammerstein musicals, although the dream sequence of Mrs Doubtfire are more surreal. Indeed there are moments were you feel you might be on a comically-induced-trip!

All in all, this is a musical comedy for all the family and should do well. It’s a big fat yes from me!

This show was reviewed on the 18th June 2023.  Mrs Doubtfire is playing at the Shaftesbury Theatre, London until January 2024.  Tickets available here: https://www.mrsdoubtfiremusical.co.uk/

Photo credit: Manuel Harlan

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