FEATUREJune/July 2024

Hello! (Mrs. Doubtfire)


By Salomon Maya

There are certain films that are more than just movies—they’re milestones, cultural touchstones that shape who we are. For me, John Hughes’ “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” and “Weird Science,” Tim Burton’s “Batman” and “Beetlejuice,” Aaron Sorkin’s “A Few Good Men,” and my favorite of all time, “The Shawshank Redemption” form a cinematic constellation guiding my life. Nestled snugly within this constellation is the 1993 comedy gem, “Mrs. Doubtfire,” starring the incomparable Robin Williams.

I vividly remember watching “Mrs. Doubtfire” in the theater, freshly minted from my bar mitzvah, and being reduced to a giggling mess by Williams’ antics as the sharp-tongued Scottish nanny. From the unforgettable face-melting “cream” to the side-splitting hot flashes and the infamous fruit assault, the film was comedic brilliance.

Naturally, I approached the stage adaptation of “Mrs. Doubtfire” at the Civic Theatre with trepidation. As I navigated the congested 5 freeway, my mind buzzed with skepticism—how on earth would they handle the rapid transformations? Williams masterfully switched between Daniel Hillard and Mrs. Doubtfire, even sharing a scene as both characters simultaneously. Could the stage production possibly capture this magic?

Settling into my seat, doubt enveloped my anticipation, but by intermission, those doubts had vanished. Is “Mrs. Doubtfire” perfect? Of course not. Did it feature any songs that lodged themselves into my brain like relentless earworms? Thankfully, no. Did some characters veer too close to caricature? Absolutely. But did it honor the essence of the beloved film? HELL YES!

The stage adaptation encapsulated everything I cherished about the movie and more. It reminded me of my love for live theater, reminding me of its unique magic. Rob McClure, who originated the Mrs. Doubtfire role on Broadway, embodied the spirit, sass, and distinctive voice of Euphegenia Doubtfire to sheer perfection. His seamless quick changes were nothing short of sorcery. A standout moment was McClure’s live beatboxing as Daniel Hillard, a testament to his versatility.

Herein lies the dilemma. Many fans prefer their cherished films to remain untouched, frozen in time. Undeniably, no one can ever replicate the genius of Robin Williams. He was a one-of-a-kind performer, a diamond in the rough (yes, that’s an Aladdin Easter egg for you). This attachment is why adaptations like “Mrs. Doubtfire” and others, such as the upcoming “Back to the Future” musical, spark debate and resistance.

However, I am firmly in the camp of wanting more, and luckily Broadway San Diego has obliged. As a father to a future fourth grader, sharing these beloved stories in new formats is a joy. I was 13 when “Mrs. Doubtfire” hit theaters, just a kid myself. Now, I have the privilege of watching my child’s eyes light up as he experiences this zany character on stage, mirroring my own wonder from years ago. This is the beauty of film and theater. They are art forms that bridge generations, creating shared experiences across time. If that isn’t the magic of live theater, then I don’t know what is.



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