Mrs. Doubtfire

Original Broadway Cast, 2022 (Sh-K-Boom) 2 out of 5 stars (2 / 5)  A 1993 film comedy in which Robin Williams as divorced dad Daniel cons his way back into his children’s lives by disguising himself as a Scottish nanny, Mrs. Doubtfire seemed to have the bones for a delightful stage musical adaptation. But despite some spunky performances and Ethan Popp’s lively orchestrations, the cast album basically distills what was disappointing about the final product that audiences saw onstage when the show, with a score by Wayne and Karey Kirkpatrick, finally opened on Broadway in 2021 after a long pandemic delay. While the Kirkpatricks’ first show, Something Rotten, grounded its playful musical vernacular in references to the Broadway catalog and, occasionally, the Renaissance, Mrs. Doubtfire’s score stylistically hopscotches from rock to jazz to flamenco without much sense of dramatic purpose or consistent tone. Leading the cast, Rob McClure and Jenn Gambatese are too often hampered by sleepy, self-serious ballads (“I Want To Be There,” “Let Go”) that contain watery platitudes such as “Time can heal, all is not lost / As long as there is love.” The extended production numbers, which seemed designed to pad out the show’s runtime on Broadway — including “Make Me A Woman” (the makeover), “Easy Peasy” (a cooking tutorial), and “You’ve Been Playing With Fire” (a dream sequence, featuring pyrotechnic vocals from Charity Angél Dawson) — feel even less necessary when stripped of their staging. One exception is a comic confrontation (“Big Fat No”) between McClure as Mrs. D.  and Mark Evans as the doting gym rat who’s courting Daniel’s ex; the pseudo-bossa-nova groove of this number is appealingly silly, there are some clever tongue-in-cheek ensemble asides, and it’s pretty much the only sequence where McClure actually gets to sing as Mrs. Doubtfire rather than as Daniel. The best song in the score goes to the kids: “What the Hell,” a punchy pop dissection of the impact of divorce, spotlights Avery Sell and Jake Ryan Flynn as Daniel’s youngest children. But it’s the sardonic, aching voice of Analise Scarpaci, playing the eldest daughter, Lydia, that soars highest on this recording. Scarpaci imbues Lydia with an emotional intelligence that lends much-needed specificity to the opening number, “What’s Wrong With This Picture,” and a gloopy second-act duet with McClure, “Just Pretend.” [Note: As it happens, Scarpaci released her own album of original music, Pathetic Little Dreamer, in 2021 while waiting for Mrs Doubtfire to reopen. She’s even better served by her own writing. ] — Dan Rubins