By Michael Buzzelli
Daniel Hillard (Rob McClure) is having a hard time keeping up with his wife Miranda (McClure’s real-life wife, Maggie Lakis) in “Mrs. Doubtfire.” Miranda’s launching her own business while he keeps getting fired from acting jobs.
She thinks he’s extremely irresponsible with their three kids, Lydia (Giselle Gutierrez), Christopher (Cody Braverman sharing the role with Axel Bernard Rimmele), and Natalie (Emerson Mae Chan sharing the role with Kennedy Pitney). After repeatedly missing their couples counseling sessions, she hands him divorce papers.
In a crushing moment in court, the Judge (David Hibbard) decides that Hillard can only see his kids one day a week. He’s devastated.
Later, when Miranda’s clothing line, M Body, begins to gain traction with a gym magnate, Stu (Leo Roberts), she realizes she needs someone to watch the kids. The unemployed Daniel begs for the gig, but Miranda denies him. Then, Daniel gets a ludicrous idea, a harebrained, whacky, this-won’t-work-anywhere-besides-movies-tv-or-stage sort of idea.
With the help of his makeup artist brother, Frank (Aaron Kaburick), and his partner, Andre (Nik Alexander), Daniel dresses up as an old Scots woman named – spoiler alert – Mrs. Doubtfire and becomes the kids nanny.
There’s a whole B plot about his job as a janitor at a local TV station that becomes very important at the end, but – at no point – will you need to shout Mr. Jolly’s (Hibbard again) signature line, “I’m so confused!”
If you’ve seen the original movie with Robin Williams, Sally Field and Pierce Brosnan than you know where this story is going. “Mrs. Doubtfire” isn’t about the ending, it’s about the journey and the undeniable humor.
The actor who follows the late, great Robin Williams in the role of Mrs. Doubtfire, has to be an incredible mimic, a talented actor, and, in this case, a terrific singer. McClure has it all in spades, the talent and the chutzpah! McClure finds small ways to make the role his own. He’s delightful.
Lakis does an admirable job as Miranda. At times, Miranda can be a difficult character to like, especially when she sides with the court against her husband, but Lakis plays Miranda with warmth and affection.
Kaburick’s Frank is a scene stealer. His character has an odd tell. When he’s forced to lie, his voice gets louder and louder (the family trait carries over to his nephew Christopher in later scenes). Watching Kaburick shout his lines is hilarious. In the hands of lesser actors this crazy character trait would be annoying, but Kaburick does it with such finesse it never grates.
Gutierrez does a marvelous job as the eldest of the Hillard children. Her singing is fantastic.
Special shout out to Lannie Rubio who shows up for one solo number, “He Lied to Me” and absolutely nails it.
“Mrs. Doubtfire” has a marvelous ensemble, great costumes (by Costume Designer Catherine Zuber) and terrific dance numbers ( by Choreographer Lorin Latarro), but, most importantly, it’s laugh out loud funny thanks to a Karey Kirkpatrick and John O’Farrell, who kept much of the original material – including some improvised lines by Robin Williams.
Is it hammy? Is it shmaltzy? Is it ridiculous? Yes, yes and yes. It doesn’t matter. It’s gloriously fun. Unbuckle your willing suspension of disbelief a few notches and let the show hit you like a run-by fruiting.
“Mrs. Doubtfire – The Musical” runs from November 28 tillDecember 3 at the Benedum Center, at the corner of Seventh and Penn Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15222. For more information, click here.