Theatre Review: Mrs Doubtfire (Shaftesbury Theatre, London) ★★★

Well, helloooo poppets! Broadway’s musical adaptation of the classic Robin Williams comedy Mrs Doubtfire has come to London highlighting the multifaceted talent that is lead performer Gabriel Vick and bringing lots of big smiles to the audience.

Daniel (Gabriel Vick) is an out of work actor and a complete manchild. Bubbling with creativity he can’t harness, and a passion for spontaneity that is pushing his wife Miranda (Laura Tebbutt) to the edge. One day she snaps, demanding a divorce and is given full custody of their children until Daniel can get a job and a place of his own, basically proving that he’s a responsible adult. But when Miranda decides to hire a nanny, Daniel manipulates his way back into the house (and to his kids’ lives) as the resourceful Scottish widow, Mrs Doubtfire.

Mrs Doubtfire. Photo: Manuel Harlan.

Mrs Doubtfire knows exactly what it is, and what it isn’t. This stage adaptation runs through the plot of the film by rote with little attempt to update it or bring anything new to the table (unlike the current Broadway adaptation of the movie classic Some Like It Hot). The songs range from fun to inoffensive. There is positive queer representation in the character of Daniel’s brother Frank (Cameron Blakely) and his husband Andre (Marcus Collins). There are sassy gags, ridiculous high-jinx and some affirming life lessons learnt. This is Broadway by numbers in a lot of ways. 

Mrs Doubtfire. Photo: Manuel Harlan.

There is, however, a degree of charm here that most film to stage musical adaptations lack. In part that’s down to the great young performers playing Daniel and Miranda’s children who hit all the right notes. While Vick is astonishingly good as Daniel/Mrs Doubtfire (it is a miracle of prosthetics), and seeing him switch in and out of costume on stage within seconds makes for some of the best moments in the show. Everything around him is less inspired, but it all works. Miranda’s suitor Stuart (Samuel Edwards) is a handsome, musclebound cypher of a character but gets the plot where it needs to be. The first 15 minutes of the show are a little rocky (trying too hard to get a laugh), but once Vick becomes Doubtfire it starts to hum along nicely.

The music is polite pop with a rather retro feel, which is perhaps unsurprising from the duo of Wayne and Karey Kirkpatrick, a key songwriter in the 90s/00s Contemporary Christian Music and country scene (his credits include writing hits for Amy Grant, Michael W Smith, Garth Brooks, and Eric Clapton). While not pushing any boundaries, their melody-driven, easy listening hooks work well in a musical theatre space and excell in the big emotional ballads.

Mrs Doubtfire. Photo: Manuel Harlan.

Mrs Doubtfire is safe, fun, middle-of-the-road musical theatre. In a London season that’s seen the return of Groundhog Day: The Musical, and the arrival of A Strange Loop, Mrs Doubtfire feels a bit dusty by comparison, but it is well-executed and perfectly entertaining.

By Chad Armstrong

Mrs Doubtfire plays at the Shaftesbury Theatre, London. Currently booking till June 2024. Click here for more details.

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