Brad Oscar’s latest Broadway outing came to a halt last week after barely a month of performances, and for now, he couldn’t be more relieved.
The Tony-nominated actor stars in the musical adaptation of “Mrs. Doubtfire,” which opened at New York’s Stephen Sondheim Theatre in December after a 20-month delay due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Audiences, he said, were enthusiastic for the show, which features music by Wayne and Karey Kirkpatrick.
But after the rise of the omicron variant prompted the cancellation of several performances just before Christmas, producers took the unprecedented ― and risky ― move of putting the musical on a nine-week hiatus after its Jan. 10 show to avoid a permanent closure. As of now, it’s slated to reopen on March 14.
“I’ve never been so excited about a show closing in my life,” Oscar quipped to HuffPost in an interview. “I’m not saying this is what we wanted to do. But right now, for our show to get footing and have the run it deserves, we need our audience. We need families, and they were there. I believe that if — God willing — everything plays out the way it’s supposed to, they’ll come back.”
Based on the 1993 comedy starring Robin Williams, “Mrs. Doubtfire” follows Daniel Hilliard (played by Rob McClure in the stage version), an out-of-work actor who loses custody of his children after a messy divorce from his wife, Miranda (Jenn Gambatese). The newly single dad calls on his gay brother, Frank (Oscar), to help him create the alter ego of nanny Euphegenia Doubtfire in a desperate, if comically presented, way to stay in his kids’ lives.
Harvey Fierstein played Frank in the movie, and though Oscar opted against mimicking Fierstein’s raspy voice, he worked with director Jerry Zaks to ensure his version of the character felt contemporary without losing the essence that made him so lovable on film.
The updated Frank is now happily married, and he and his husband, Andre (J. Harrison Ghee), are eager to become first-time parents. They also get to perform the show’s disco-inspired centerpiece number, “Make Me a Woman,” during which they transform Daniel into Mrs. Doubtfire.
And though Oscar’s Broadway résumé includes “The Producers,” “Something Rotten!” and other beloved shows, “Mrs. Doubtfire” affords him an opportunity to embody a character who, in many respects, reflects his offstage life. In April, the actor and his real-life husband, Diego Prieto, will celebrate their 10th wedding anniversary.
“I’m thrilled I can be up there representing [the LGBTQ community] and that it’s not an issue,” he said. “We’re a family show and kids seeing that represented ― I couldn’t be happier about that.”
In the days since “Mrs. Doubtfire” went on its hiatus, other Broadway shows like “To Kill a Mockingbird” and the Bob Dylan jukebox musical “The Girl from the North Country” have also opted for temporary closures. Though the last two years have proven the unpredictability of COVID-19, Oscar is confident that those shows will return ― and, in the case of “Mrs. Doubtfire” especially, their messages will be even more timely.
“I think so much of what’s happened has forced us to examine who we are, how we treat our family, how we respect each other, and all of that stuff is there on the stage,” he said. “And musical comedy ― it’s such a balm and a tonic.”
“I’ve always said, ‘There’s nothing like a Broadway show.’ I’ve felt that way since I was a kid,” he added. “When it happens in this 10-block radius, there’s just something special. From this side of the footlights, I can tell you it’s because these people are at the top of their craft and, yeah, it’s a privilege.”