Mrs Doubtfire ★★★★☆

The adage “Everything old is new again” couldn’t ring truer in the recent surge of nostalgia-laden musical adaptations hitting the West End, a trend keenly observed in the wildly entertaining and surprisingly layered stage rendition of the beloved ’90s Robin Williams film, Mrs Doubtfire.

Centered around the story of the freshly divorced comic actor Daniel Hillard, portrayed by the highly impressive Gabriel Vick, Mrs Doubtfire introduces us to a desperate father ready to don layers of latex, pounds of padding, and a robust Scottish accent to secure the role of Euphegenia Doubtfire, an eccentric nanny. His only goal? To spend more time with his three children, caught in the crosshairs of a divorce and in need of guidance.

One of the most commendable aspects of this adaptation is how it smartly manoeuvres around the pitfalls of potential controversies. It takes the film’s central plot and injects it with a necessary 21st-century update, dealing tactfully with its cross-dressing premise that could otherwise stumble into problematic territory. Instead, the musical focuses on the theme of a father’s desperation and love for his children, delivering a heartwarming narrative that tugs at the heartstrings while keeping the laughter rolling.

Vick’s rendition of Hillard/Doubtfire is the undeniable epicentre of the show, steering it with his top-tier comedic timing and heart-rendering emotional depth. His ability to transition from the hapless dad to the fiery nanny, coupled with his stellar impersonation skills and quick-change wizardry, is nothing short of mesmerising. The show is largely fuelled by his energy, but that’s not to downplay the exceptional performances by his co-stars.

Laura Tebbutt, as Miranda Hillard, delivers a strong and empathetic portrayal of the disciplinarian mother navigating her way through a life-altering situation. The younger cast members rotate, but each set brings their own unique charm to the Hillard kids, showcasing a spectrum of authentic reactions to their parents’ marital troubles. Cameron Blakely’s Frank, Daniel’s brother, is a joy to watch, his comedic “I’m lying!” outbursts a highlight of the show.

The musical’s book, crafted by Karey Kirkpatrick and John O’Farrell, does a fine job of balancing the comedy and pathos, with notable additions of 21st-century elements and more fleshed-out scenes. While the score by Wayne Kirkpatrick and Karey Kirkpatrick doesn’t consistently reach the heights of musical theatre brilliance, it offers a slew of memorable tunes that shine through, like the empowering ‘Let Go’ and the heartfelt ‘What The Hell’. Having said that, the show could do with some more memorable numbers; you’ll come out the theatre happy, but you won’t be hu

Jerry Zaks’ direction and Lorin Latarro’s choreography work in perfect harmony to keep the stage buzzing with captivating, large ensemble numbers, slick scene transitions, and comedic beats that hit their mark every time. The detailed and dynamic set design by David Korins and Catherine Zuber’s eye-catching costumes add depth and dimension to the show, while Philip S. Rosenberg’s occasionally over-bright lighting design can be distracting but doesn’t overshadow the overall aesthetic appeal of the musical.

The true triumph of this production is the seamless blend of humour, sentiment, and message that it carries. It echoes the heartwarming and unsaccharine conclusion that family is what you make it, with a profound emotional depth that refuses to sugarcoat the reality of divorce and its impact on the family unit.

All things considered, Mrs Doubtfire is a vibrant, heartwarming musical that delivers a compelling blend of nostalgia and modern sensibilities. While it has a few minor hiccups, it is largely an enjoyable evening out at the theatre, a place where hilarity and heartache coexist, keeping you laughing one moment and wiping away tears the next. It takes the best parts of the movie and adds an engaging new dimension through the magic of stagecraft. If you’re in the mood for some hearty laughter, touching moments, and a fresh look at an old favourite, Mrs Doubtfire is the show for you. Just remember to keep those tissues handy, because this musical is bound to have you laughing and crying in equal measure.