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Theatre Review | 'Mrs. Doubtfire'


“Not everything is meant to be a musical.”

That’s the message I received from a friend who knew I was seeing “Mrs. Doubtfire,” the Broadway musical adapted from the 1993 film starring Robin Williams adapted from the 1987 novel “Alias Madame Doubtfire” by Anne Fine. If that already sounds like a lot, buckle in — ‘a lot’ is one way to describe the regional touring production at West Herr Auditorium Theatre through February 25.

In case you completely missed the Robin Williams era of film (I recommend “Hook,” “Dead Poets Society,” and “What Dreams May Come”), “Mrs. Doubtfire” was one of the late actor’s most beloved. Williams created the character of a Scottish nanny who is, in reality, a recently divorced dad crossdressing so he can spend time with his children undercover. As may be expected, it's a comedy of errors and hilarity ensues.

A Broadway adaptation has been in the works since 2015, but officially got off the ground in 2019, opening on Broadway in March 2020. From there, it played off and on throughout the pandemic until closing in May 2022. The touring production, starring the original Mrs. Doubtfire, Rob McClure, began in fall 2023 (making Rochester one of its earliest stops).

Gone is the thoroughly 90s feel of the film – in the musical, there are references to wifi, TikTok, Siri, and frequent use of iPhones throughout the show. Costumes are more modern (though considering the return of 90s trends it’s hard to say).

And while it’s strange how much Robin Williams still touches this performance — how he created a character so iconic that most of the lines and mannerisms have stayed completely intact — McClure commands the show with a beyond-entertaining performance that demonstrates his excellence as an actor, singer and dancer (even in heels). It's rare to have the Broadway star remain on for the regional tour, which makes this an even more special experience.

With the exception of McClure, there is no standout, spotlight-stealing performer in the production. Not to say there isn’t a ton of talent onstage — but that’s not really the point. Every cast member is simply playing a character, a caricature that makes for an excellent supporting cast in a plot line that’s very familiar to most audience members. This is a feel-good story for fans, and creators Karey Kirkpatrick, Wayne Kirkpatrick, and John O'Farrell left it that way. While a few moments feel more emotionally weighty, the majority of the roughly two-and-a-half hour show is a silly romp.

“Not everything is meant to be a musical" rings true. But for those who are craving Robin Williams-era nostalgia or a few belly laughs at the theater, “Mrs. Doubtfire” is just the ticket.

The touring production of "Mrs. Doubtfire" runs as part of RBTL's 2023-24 season at West Herr Auditorium Theatre through February 25. Tickets here.

Leah Stacy is CITY's editor. Feedback about this article can be sent to [email protected].