Mrs Doubtfire: Fear not, dearies – this is still one of the biggest treats in the West End

Gabriel Vick in Mrs Doubtfire, at the Shaftesbury Theatre
Gabriel Vick in Mrs Doubtfire, at the Shaftesbury Theatre - Manuel Harlan

It’s a happy first “nanniversary” to the Mrs Doubtfire musical London production, which is still taking excellent care of the kids, and giving Shaftesbury Theatre audiences an exuberantly fun night out, one year on. It’s a truly multi-generational family show, with entertainment ranging from Austin Powers and Riverdance references through to fart jokes and pure slapstick silliness.

It was certainly a risk to transfer the fiercely beloved 1993 film to stage. After all, how could anyone improve on Robin Williams’s indelible performance as the out-of-work actor and unhappily divorced dad, Daniel, who pretends to be a Scottish nanny to see his kids? Happily, though, this Mrs Doubtfire musical review can report that the show strikes a close-to-perfect balance between re-creating the movie’s most memorable scenes and finding a new theatrical language for this zany tale.

There are also significant updates in Karey Kirkpatrick and John O’Farrell’s book – most notably, giving Daniel’s wife Miranda much more of a voice. She’s not just a joyless shrew tearing the family apart, but an unhappy woman who has tried everything to prop up her failing marriage. Laura Tebbutt beautifully delivers her big confessional ballad in which she articulates how isolating it is to be the sole parent, since her husband is really just a big kid.

Gabriel Vick is still on fire in his utterly astonishing tour-de-force performance as Daniel. Like Williams, he can bust out impressions galore, from Kermit to Donald Trump, plus some topical new additions: Harry Kane, Keir Starmer, and Rishi Sunak informing children that they will have to go without Sky TV. On hearing that he can’t throw an elaborate birthday party, he quips, “I’ll cancel Taylor Swift!”. A set-piece involving rap and a looping machine is a thrill to witness, and throughout all the wacky quick-change action, he also shows us how Daniel is gradually maturing. By dressing as a woman, he learns to be a better man.

Jerry Zaks’s supremely slick Mrs Doubtfire London production demonstrates that the farcical action works even better live. We get to see, in real time, Daniel bouncing between being himself and his female alter ego for his suspicious court liaison Wanda, or trying to fend off Miranda’s romantic rival while also pitching a show to a TV executive. There’s also a great running gag involving his brother Frank (the brilliant Cameron Blakely), who unwittingly shouts when he lies.

Gabriel Vick and co in Mrs Doubtfire, at the Shaftesbury Theatre
Gabriel Vick and co in Mrs Doubtfire, at the Shaftesbury Theatre - Manuel Harlan

Wayne and Karey Kirkpatrick’s songs are notably creative and varied. Since Frank’s husband Andre (a charismatic Marcus Collins) loves Donna Summer, the big makeover number is disco fabulous. When Daniel desperately searches the internet for cooking tips, various YouTube videos, including a sensual butter-caressing Nigella one, come to tap-dancing life. But the standout is a hilariously pointed flamenco number about a lying man given exactly the right level of wild-eyed melodrama by Lisa Mathieson.

Strong additions to the Mrs Doubtfire London cast include Charlotte Fleming as angry eldest daughter Lydia and Matthew Goodgame as Miranda’s buff new beau, while Micha Richardson excels as the sharp-eyed, but ultimately kindly, Wanda. The big-hearted take-home message is that families come in all different forms (an added subplot here involves Frank and Andre trying to adopt). Love is what matters, dearies – and if you can share a laugh at the theatre, too, so much the better.

Currently booking until Feb 16, 2025. To book, go to Telegraph Tickets