Supporting the Arts in Western Massachusetts and Beyond

October 6, 2023

REVIEW: The Bushnell, “Mrs. Doubtfire”

The Bushnell, Hartford, CT 
through October 8, 2023
by Michael J. Moran
Photo by Joan Marcus
Based on the 1993 film of the same name, this musical adaptation played on Broadway from
October 2021 to May 2022. The Bushnell is the second stop on its 10-month North American tour, in which Rob McClure reprises his Tony-nominated Broadway performance in the title role.   

The story follows Daniel, an unemployed but talented San Francisco voice actor, through the heartbreak of divorce from his ambitious fashion designer wife Miranda and separation from their three young children, Lydia, Christopher, and Natalie to their reunion when Miranda unwittingly hires Daniel (disguised as an elderly British nanny) as a housekeeper. A series of often hilarious misadventures leads to TV stardom for Daniel and a happily reconnected family.     

McClure brings a manic energy to the opening scene that rarely flags for the next two and a half hours. The enormous range of his talent for mimicry and physical comedy puts him in the rare company of Charlie Chaplin (whom he played on Broadway in 2012) and Robin Williams, unforgettable as Mrs. Doubtfire on film. Catchy music and clever lyrics by brothers Wayne and Karey Kilpatrick and a witty book by Karey Kilpatrick and John O’Farrell spread these high spirits throughout the cast. 

Maggie Lakis, McClure’s real-life wife, is a sympathetic Miranda, piercingly poignant in her big Act II solo, “Let Go.” Giselle Gutierrez is a wise-beyond-her-years Lydia in “Just Pretend,” her touching duet with Daniel. Axel Bernard Rimmele and Kennedy Pitney were endearing as her younger siblings. Aaron Kaburick as Daniel’s brother Frank, Nik Alexander as Frank’s spouse, Andre, Romelda Teron Benjamin as Daniel’s court-appointed overseer, Wanda Sellner, and Leo Roberts as Miranda’s suitor Stu are each distinctively over the top. The full company finale, “As Long as There Is Love,” is a heartwarming hymn to not-quite-traditional family values. 
Director Jerry Zaks and choreographer Lorin Latarro get special kudos for their intricate staging of several big production numbers featuring nonstop hijinks: “Easy Peasy,” Mrs. Doubtfire’s video cooking lesson brought to animated life; and “Welcome to La Rosa”/“He Lied to Me,” in which (spoiler alert) Daniel’s disguise is inadvertently revealed. Their effects are magnified by Catherine Zuber’s colorful costume design and lively musical direction by Mark Binns and his protean eleven-member band. 

Broadway fans of all ages will enjoy this entertaining and family-friendly show.