Mrs. Doubtfire Broadway musical's star wants to make Robin Williams 'proud': 'It's all I can wish for'
Meet Broadway’s newest star: Euphegenia Doubtfire!
The character at the center of Robin Williams’ beloved 1993 comedy Mrs. Doubtfire is making her way from the big screen to the Great White Way this March in a brand new musical, and PEOPLE has a sneak peek at the superstar nanny in action.
In a new clip, get your first look at actor Rob McClure in costume as Mrs. Doubtfire.
The 37-year-old actor — a Tony nominee in 2013 for his performance in the title role of the musical Chaplin — plays Daniel Hillard, who disguises himself as a British nanny in order to get more time with his children after a bitter custody battle with his ex-wife relegates him to supervised visits.
Fans of the family film will remember what happens next, as Hillard tries his best to live his dual life without being discovered by his kids (Mara Wilson, Matthew Lawrence and Lisa Jakub, onscreen), his ex (Sally Field), or her new boyfriend (Pierce Brosnan).
The role is one of Williams’ most iconic onscreen parts, even earning him a Golden Globe for best actor in 1994. The movie itself is beloved by audiences too, earning over $200 million at the U.S. box office and grossing over $440 million worldwide.
All that leads to some lofty expectations for McClure, who jokes to PEOPLE that he’s feeling a combination of “excitement and fear” when it comes to playing Mrs. Doubtfire.
“No pressure, right?” he jokes, adding he’s “honored” to tackle the role. “The audience comes in the door throwing all of this third part affection to the character, and I get to be the recipient of that. It’s an overwhelming feeling.”
Luckily, no one is more equipped to play Mrs. Doubtfire onstage. Not only is McClure an acclaimed musical comedy talent with a history of leading stage adaptations of hit movies (2019’s Beetlejuice, 2015’s Honeymoon in Vegas), he’s also a huge fan of Williams — who died in 2014.
“I am the biggest Robin Williams fan in the world,” McClure says. “His death was devastating to me. It’s not just the loss of the things that we love, but the loss of the potential things he could have done; the new iconic performances that were sort of stolen away from us. He’ll forever be an inspiration.”
“His performance in Mrs. Doubtfire is truly one of the most genius of all time,” McClure adds. “And I have been just as obsessed Mrs. Doubtfire as anyone. I know it forwards and backwards, I know every line. People say, ‘When you found out you got the part, did you watch the movie again?’ I don’t need to. When I close my eyes I have every frame of this movie behind my eyelids. I’ve probably watched it hundreds of times growing up, so the imprint of Williams’ performance is there.”
“The imprint that he left in everyone else, he left in me,” McClure continues. “So I promise you, I take Williams with me on stage every night and I try to do my best to pay tribute to Williams. You’ll see the Mrs. Doubtfire you love and crave. But you’ll always watch me take Mrs. Doubtfire somewhere new, somewhere we haven’t seen her go, in a way that I think would make him proud. It’s all I can wish for.”
McClure, and Mrs. Doubtfire, got strong reviews when the show premiered in Seattle back in December.
The musical — which begins performances on March 9 at New York City’s Stephen Sondheim Theatre ahead of an official opening night on April 5 — features a book by Karey Kirkpatrick and John O’Farrell, with and music and lyrics by Wayne Kirkpatrick and Karey Kirkpatrick (the team behind Something Rotten!). Jerry Zaks (Hello, Dolly!) directs.
“It’s a really smart adaptation of the film,” McClure says. “The audience is going to get all of the things that they’re craving from the adaptation, just not in the way that they expect to get them, which I think is a clever spin of our adaptation. It’s worthy of 2020 and I think it has a lot to offer and tons of laughs.”
It’s not just the laughs. Seeing as the show talks a lot about divorce, McClure says “the majority of people who have been waiting at the stage door were people in tears.”
“Don’t forget that, when Mrs. Doubtfire came out in the 90s, most movies with divorced parents centered around them getting back together,” he notes. “This was really the first film that told kids, ‘They’re better off apart and you’ll be better off with them apart. They’ll be better parents for you because they’ll be happier.’ “
“It was sort of a revolutionary idea back then and believe it or not, almost 30 years later, the idea of assuring the children of divorced families that they can change their definition of family and it’s going to be okay is as revolutionary an idea as ever,” McClure says. “Our show expands on the idea of unconventional family, not just divorced households but the different structures of family in a 2020 world and embracing them all. The people at the stage door have been really moved at the inclusion of them in the story.”
Speaking of kids, McClure is a dad himself, to a 1-year-old daughter named Sadie, whom he shares with wife and actress Maggie Lakis.
Being a dad off-stage has certainly influenced his performance.
“It really is true that you can’t fully grasp the bond between a parent and a child unless you’re holding your own,” McClure says. “There is something really overwhelming about both the love and the responsibility that comes with it. The idea of a judge saying that I can only see my kid once a week? I don’t think I would go to the length Daniel Hillard went, because none of us are questioning whether or not that was a good idea, but I do understand the idea of ‘Just how far would you go to be there for your kids?’ So it’s really all come at the perfect time.”
As for Sadie, she’s given her stamp of approval to her dad playing Mrs. Doubtfire, in a way.
“I showed her a picture of me in my Mrs. Doubtfire gear and she had no interest in it because she was treating it like a stranger,” McClure laughed. “That really is the greatest compliment to this team, because between the costume and the bodysuit and the face and the wig and the teat, it was important that she be unrecognizable. So it really worked.”
Tickets to Mrs. Doubfire are now on sale.
This article originally appeared on People.com