Thursday 22 June 2023

Mrs Doubtfire - Review

Shaftesbury Theatre, London


Music & Lyrics by Wayne Kirkpatrick & Karey Kirkpatrick
Book by Karey Kirkpatrick & John O'Farrell
Based on the Twentieth Century Studios Motion Picture
Directed by Jerry Zaks

Laura Tebbutt and Gabriel Vick

When they hand out the Olivier Award for Best Actor in a Musical next year, look out for Gabriel Vick’s interpretation of Daniel Hillard. Vick's translation from screen to stage of perhaps the movies’ most famous nanny since Mary Poppins is nothing short of remarkable. With an uncanny vocal dexterity and pinpoint stage presence, he takes Robin Williams’ Golden Globe-winning creation and in a dazzling performance, lifts the show.

Back in the day the genius of the movie was not just in Williams’ performance, but in the  film’s ability to tell its story and its pathos with a convincing humanity. On stage, the pathos is reduced to being transmitted through song and while this musical's acting may be impressive, the songs are mostly average served with a generous helping of cheese. If there’s a musical highlight of the evening it is He Lied To Me a wonderfully pastiche'd flamenco number sung by Lisa Mathieson midway through act two.

Vick’s costuming is terrific, however his Robin Williams lookalike prosthetic face is a distraction that obstructs the connection between actor and audience. Vick's voice can be heard, but the prosthetic means the audience are never permitted to see the extent of his facial acting range. The supporting cast are all on fine form. Laura Tebbutt as Daniel's wife Miranda is an assured delight, slotting well into an essentially two-dimensional role. Similarly Cameron Blakely as Daniel’s brother Frank, is a modest part but an inspired creation nonetheless.

Jerry Zaks directs the piece with suitable Broadway pizzazz alongside Lorin Latarro’s imaginative choreography. Elliot Ware’s 10-piece band make fine work of the Kirkpatricks’ score.

Colourful and touching, Mrs Doubtfire is an affectionate take on one of the funniest stories ever told.

Booking until 13th January 2024
Photo credit: Manuel Harlan

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