‘Mrs. Doubtfire’ musical producers dogged by ‘Tootsie’ Broadway failure

‘Mrs. Doubtfire’ musical producers dogged by ‘Tootsie’ Broadway failure

“Tootsie” flopped on Broadway. It’s a terrific show, but its early closing is scaring the hell out of “Mrs. Doubtfire,” another musical whose leading man is also a leading lady.

Based on the 1993 Robin Williams movie, “Mrs. Doubtfire” is working out its kinks (so to speak) in Seattle before it opens on Broadway in the spring at the Stephen Sondheim Theatre.

My spies tell me it’s in good shape, and with director Jerry Zaks at the helm, should be in terrific shape by the time it hits New York.

But its producers are taking no chances. They brought in some members of GLAAD, an organization that monitors sensitivity issues about gay and transgender people, to make sure they’re not offending anybody.

“Tootsie” was about a straight guy who couldn’t get work in the theater because he was a pain in the ass. So he dressed up as a woman and became a star. But he took a job away from a woman. And he dressed up as a woman not because he felt the need to be a woman, but because he needed, as he says, “the work.”

And so a theory has taken hold on Broadway that “Tootsie” failed because it was offensive to women (who could have had that job) and transgender people, because they are, to paraphrase Jerry Herman, “what they are,” and for someone to “appropriate” them for mercenary reasons is offensive.

The cast of
The cast of “Tootsie” for the 100th performance on Broadway on July 22, 2019.Jason Smith/Everett Collection

This is nonsense.

The producers of “Mrs. Doubtfire” should put this out of their heads.

I was a big supporter of “Tootsie.” It probably failed because few theatergoers today remember that great 1982 movie.

“Mrs. Doubtfire,” on the other hand, was an enormous hit in 1993. That would be the generation that now has the money to see a Broadway show, and “Mrs. Doubtfire” is a title they love.

Robin Williams in 1993's
Robin Williams in 1993’s “Mrs. Doubtfire.”©20thCentFox/Courtesy Everett C

And from the buzz, the musical’s good.

Rob McClure, who’s been knocking around Broadway for a while, is getting his first star turn since 2012’s “Chaplin” and is making the most of it.
“Tony Award-winning,” a source says of his performance.

Karey and Wayne Kirkpatrick, the brothers who wrote “Something Rotten!,” have done the score.

I wasn’t crazy about “Something Rotten!” It was vulgar and obvious, but it did have one very good song — “Welcome to the Renaissance,” which promised something that never arrived.

I hear their score is much better for “Mrs. Doubtfire.”

And at the end of the day, let’s remember that “Mrs. Doubtfire” has nothing to do with sexual politics, transgendering, LGBTQ or whatever political movement is in fashion.

It’s about a man who, after a nasty divorce, just wants to see his children.

It’s an obstacle to climb. And he does it in a dress.


Everybody I know in the theater world is reading Albert Poland’s “Stages: A Theater Memoir.” Albert, a producer of such shows as “Little Shop of Horrors” and “The Boy From Oz,” is a great storyteller, and his book is filled with wonderful stories.

My favorite is when Albert went to visit Bernard B. Jacobs, the head of the Shubert Organization, after the opening of “ ’Night Mother” in 1983. Marsha Norman’s play was about a depressed woman, played by a then-unknown Kathy Bates, who tells her mother she’s going to commit suicide. She makes good on her threat.

The morning after the play opened to rave reviews, Albert was in Jacobs’ office and asked how the box office was.

“It’s good,” Jacobs said. “But the depth of the suicide audience remains to be seen.”

“Len Berman and Michael Riedel in the Morning” airs weekdays on WOR Radio 710.


Source : Michael Riedel Link

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