Wednesday, May 29, 2024

Broadway in Tucson Review: 'Mrs. Doubtfire'

The musical adaptation of "Mrs. Doubtfire" tiptoes a fine line that hinges entirely on its lead performance. Because it leans so heavily on the character, Daniel, a struggling, recently divorced voice actor who masquerades as a Scottish nanny in order to spend more time with his kids, the show's entire tone and upside is set by the performer's panache and magnetism. If the performance is cloying and overexerted, the entire show would be an agonizing bore.

Rob McClure, however, is anything but that. A dynamic, astoundingly talented performer and gifted comedian, he serves as the dynamic lynchpin that holds together the wily, impossibly funny parade of whimsy, pop culture satire and subtle, yet effective, sentimentality.

Based on the 1993 movie that starred Robin Williams, the show ran on Broadway in 2022 and 2023, when it launched a national tour. McClure played the role on Broadway, and he manages to elevate Williams' original creation into a bombastic virtuoso turn that's entirely his own. His considerable talents, which reach their peak in the numbers "Easy Peasy" and "About Time," thrive in a role that at times demands rapping, breakdancing, juggling, tap dancing and impressions.

An exquisite bookend to the Broadway in Tucson season, which opened in September with another heavily Williams-influenced production, "Aladdin," "Mrs. Doubtfire" is a spellbinding spectacle that is undoubtedly the funniest musical I have ever seen, topping "The Book of Mormon" by a longshot.

Other standouts in the cast include Maggie Lakis as Dennis' flustered ex-wife, Miranda, and Giselle Gutierrez as their oldest daughter, Lydia, through whose lens the show plays out as a coming-of-age story.

While the plot is crammed with nonsensical non sequiturs that grow even more absurd and outlandish on stage than what the original film offered, every note and flourish stays true to the core impetus of painting Dennis as a troubled, terminally immature parent who will go to any ends to stay in the lives of his children. Even in its wildest moments, the emotional core stays firm, and McClure is always able to shift on a dime from showman to sensitive shrinking violet, making the serious moments register, and even sting a little.

"Mrs. Doubtfire" surprised me with its irrepressibly entertaining fervor. Its instant standing ovation was well-earned and exuberant, rather than the grudgingly polite sort you so often see. The show is a true treat, and if you're a fan of musical comedy, you owe it to yourself to catch McClure's performance while it's near/

"Mrs. Doubtfire" plays through June 2 at Centennial Hall. Buy tickets here.

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