This fall marks the 30th anniversary of Robin Williams’ side-splitting comedy “Mrs. Doubtfire” (1993).f
D.C. is celebrating with the stage musical “Mrs. Doubtfire” at National Theatre from Oct. 10 to Oct. 15.
“If you’re a big fan of the movie, you’re going to see what you want to see,” Actress Giselle Gutierrez told WTOP. “There’s the iconic pie-in-the-face scene, the run-by fruiting scene, the ‘whole time’ line at the end. … Our creative team worked really hard to make sure this story was about each character and their journey through this entire process. I don’t want to expose too much … but it’s really cool to see a more in-depth version of the movie.”
Based on Anne Fine’s 1987 novel and Chris Columbus’ 1993 film, the story follows San Francisco voice actor Daniel Hillard, who divorces his wife Miranda, then dresses up as the “hip-hop, bee-bop” nanny Mrs. Doubtfire in order to spend time with his three kids: 14-year-old Lydia, 12-year-old Chris and 5-year-old Natalie.
“They get into a little bit of a messy divorce because he is childish and doesn’t really know how to step up to the plate and be a father,” Gutierrez said. “In order for Daniel to get back into his kids’ lives, he cross-dresses as Mrs. Doubtfire and is Miranda’s nanny for his kids. … Most of these stories end up with the parents getting together and this is the one story where that doesn’t happen. It’s very realistic, so I feel like a lot of people can relate to it.”
“Lydia to me feels like the third parent to those kids,” Gutierrez said. “There’s never a dull moment. We have two sets of kids, they alternate every show. One pairing is Cody (Sawyer Braverman) and Emmy (Mae Chan). The other pairing is Kennedy (Alexandra Pitney) and Axel (Bernard Rimmele). It’s really cool to see the different dynamics because they’re very different kids. … I think that’s what keeps it so energetic. I’m always on my toes.”
The title role is played by Rob McClure, who reprises his Tony-nominated role from Broadway in 2021.
“Oh my goodness, he is such a joy to work with both on and off stage,” Gutierrez said. “He is truly one of the best comedic actors I’ve ever seen in my life. He’s just always there and he is so present. He just has it, you know what I mean? This role is really difficult, not only in just the storytelling, but also in the technical elements because there are so many quick (costume) changes. It’s just a lot of stamina and Rob just does it so well.”
McClure’s real-life wife Maggie Lakis plays Miranda, made famous on screen by Sally Field.
“They definitely have a connection, obviously, but they’re so professional that when we’re doing this show they are their characters, they’re not the people in real life,” Gutierrez said. “Maggie specifically is so intentional and she’s one of the realest and most kind human beings I’ve ever met in my life, so it was really easy to connect with her. When we were in rehearsal and weren’t doing anything, we’d just be in deep conversations. She’s wonderful.”
Rounding out the cast is Leo Roberts as Miranda’s new boyfriend, Stuart Dunmire, who was played in the movie by a pre-007 Pierce Brosnan, getting pelted in the back of the head by a grapefruit from a jealous Robin Williams.
While those iconic moments are revived for the theater, the stage version inserts tons of fresh elements, namely the original musical numbers by the songwriting brother duo Karey and Wayne Kirkpatrick (“Something Rotten!”).
“One of my favorites is ‘Make Me a Woman’ (where) he comes into his brother’s house and says, ‘I just signed up to be a nanny for Miranda, please help me,’ and the whole number is them transforming him into Mrs. Doubtfire,” Gutierrez said. “(Another) one of my favorites is ‘Let Go,’ a ballad where Miranda is opening up for the first time to Mrs. Doubtfire about why she went through with the divorce. … That’s definitely my favorite song in the show.”