Like many young people growing up in the eighties and nineties, I grew up watching the film Mrs Doubtfire. It was always on TV around Christmas and had an A-list cast including Robin Williams, Sally Field, Pierce Brosnan, Harvey Fierstein and a six-year-old Mara Wilson (in the first of a series of box office hits including Matilda and Miracle of 34th Street).
Out-of-work actor Daniel (played by Gabriel Vick) will do anything for his kids. After losing custody in a messy divorce with wife Miranda (Laura Tebbutt), he creates the alter ego of Scottish nanny Euphegenia Doubtfire in a desperate attempt to stay in their lives. As his new character takes on a life of its own, Mrs. Doubtfire teaches Daniel more than he bargained for about how to be a father.
Gabriel Vick ticks all the boxes needed for a role like this. His impressions are faultless and he easily switches between characters (which in a show like this is not an easy task). Laura Tebbutt is also perfectly cast as Miranda, managing to convey the character as both likeable and unlikeable. Cameron Blakely plays Daniels brother Frank and Marcus Collins, as his partner. Being make up artists, when Daniel asks them to “make me a woman” they are delighted at the task in hand. The role of Stuart (played by Samuel Edwards) feels less featured than in the film and the musical centres itself more around the broken family.
The musical stays very close to the original movie script, featuring all the classic lines fans will remember.
The cast are faultless in this production but the story has always been a flawed one. A woman divorces her husband and then spends a huge amount of time with ‘Mrs Doubtfire’, never realising who she really is. Anyone who has been married to someone for fifteen years would instantly see the person behind the mask, regardless of how good an actor they were. And Daniel, who suddenly becomes the worlds best father and husband, because his children have been taken away from him. I am sure he had been given plenty of chances to make more of an effort before Miranda finally gave up and so why didn’t he change he ways before?
The set design felt minimal and unimaginative for a big budget production and the songs were mostly forgettable. I almost feel like the show could work better as a gritty play, really exploring the marital issues faced and the way divorce affects the children involved.
I found the velcro mask Mrs Doubtfire wore, to be utterly terrifying – creepy, ill fitting and not unlike something from the 2000’s TV comedy, Bo Selecta. And the moment where ten people dressed as Mrs Doubtfire appear together, dancing on stage, makes things just as disturbing.
As a fan of the film, I had a fun night out seeing Mrs Doubtfire the Musical. It was a nostalgic trip down memory lane and it wasn’t ‘bad’. It just could have been so much more.
Reviewed by West End Wilma