February 21, 2024

By Kharisma McIlwaine
ABOVE PHOTO: Photograph: Joan Marcus/Academy of Music

The 1993 movie “Mrs. Doubtfire” captured the hearts of many over 30 years in the past. The movie, based mostly on the 1987 Alias Madame novel “Madame Doubtfire,” tells the story of Daniel Hillard, an out-of-work actor, brilliantly performed by the late Robin Williams, and his quest to spend extra time together with his youngsters amidst a really tough divorce. With the assistance of his brother, Daniel transforms into the beloved Mrs. Doubtfire and is employed (unbeknownst to his ex-wife) as his youngsters’s extremely over-the-top however loving nanny.

Shelia Jones

In 2019, the musical adaptation of “Mrs. Doubtfire” made its world premiere in Seattle and later premiered on Broadway in March of 2020. The manufacturing is presently on the street for the U.S nationwide tour. The solid contains Philadelphia’s personal Rob McClure as Daniel/Mrs. Doubtfire, and Maggie Lakis as Miranda Hillard. Ensemble solid member Sheila Jones spoke with the SUN concerning the nostalgia surrounding the story of “Mrs. Doubtfire” and her expertise within the present.

Jones, a Florida native, started her musical journey in church. She continued cultivating her expertise whereas attending a performing arts highschool and went on to attend Florida State College graduating with a level in musical theater. After touchdown a task in “Ragtime” in North Carolina, Jones’ love for efficiency took her throughout the globe as a performer in Hong Kong Disneyland as Nayla in “The Lion King.”

“I packed up all my stuff and moved to Hong Kong for six months. Then I got here again to the states for 5 days in Florida,” Jones mentioned with fun. “I bear in mind my mother being, like, ‘You go midway the world over, come again for slightly bit and transfer to New York.’ Inside 5 days of being again within the states I moved to New York Metropolis. It was actually enjoyable. It [being in Hong Kong] was a really eye-opening expertise, my first time in a foreign country and my longest airplane journey. The expertise was so cool — to have the ability to be part of a Disney manufacturing with the Disney magic and in addition in a very totally different tradition. A variety of cool issues occurred, but in addition some unusual issues — however total, it was an important expertise.”

After a little bit of tradition shock whereas pounding the pavements of New York auditioning, a collection of “no’s” and a rigorous audition course of, Jones heard “sure” to the function as an ensemble solid member in “Mrs. Doubtfire.”

“This audition course of for this present particularly had so many rounds to it,” he mentioned. “It’s truly certainly one of my favourite audition tales. I used to be so dangerous — I used to be actually dangerous at it. We needed to do the dance mixture, and everybody struggled, however I struggled probably the most. I did the primary two counts of eight, after which I made up the remainder. He requested me to return again out to do the mix once more. By that point, I had fully forgotten it. He was giving notes to totally different folks and he checked out me and mentioned, ‘Are you able to simply’ and I mentioned, ‘What — be taught it?’ So, I did my greatest once more, after which they requested me to sing, which shocked me. Actually, it was the tenacity of all of it that did it. I sang, after which I got here again yet one more time to bounce. I instructed myself [that] I clearly I needed to be loads higher than I used to be earlier than. I practiced exterior of the audition and got here again and slayed it.”

No stranger to the fabric, Jones had fond reminiscences of the movie “Mrs. Doubtfire” from her childhood.

“My introduction was positively on VHS,” he mentioned. “I bear in mind watching it with my sisters on a regular basis. After I bought this job, my center sister was, like, ‘I’m so excited, I really like that film a lot!’ That was my introduction — seeing it on replay.”

“I believe it interprets rather well to the stage… surprisingly effectively, “Jones mentioned. “Actually, at first I mentioned, ‘Mrs. Doubtfire’ the musical — do we’d like this?’ However after seeing it, I get pleasure from the way it has translated onto the stage. It has updates just like the addition of the web, as a result of now that’s an enormous factor. It additionally takes fairly a number of traces from the film as effectively — those which might be iconic. For those who see the film, you would possibly anticipate Robin Williams.

Then you definitely see the play and also you see Rob McClure, who performs Mrs. Doubtfire/Daniel, and the best way that this man works is so inspiring. It’s a masterclass each time I watch him in motion, as a result of he isn’t Robin Williams — he’s his personal entity, and it’s wonderful what he does” she defined.

Very similar to the movie, “Mrs. Doubtfire” the musical brings excessive vitality from begin to end.

“It’s a variety of vitality,” Jones mentioned. “It has positively gotten simpler, as a result of now I do know the steps, however once you add singing to it as effectively, it’s a unique beast. There’s one specific quantity, “Make Me A Lady” the place we twirl off of the stage and simply the quantity of individuals that you simply see leaned over attempting to catch their breath is hilarious, however we’re presupposed to nonetheless be singing at that time, too. It’s a beast of a present bodily, however I’ve gotten extra used to it, which is nice.”

Along with steady vitality and laughter, the present presents the viewers the identical delight the movie delivered to so many to the stage.
“My sister got here to see the present in Hartford, and after the present she mentioned, ‘It’s so large, it’s so excessive vitality… how are you going to maintain this up for a yr?’ I mentioned, ‘Woman, I do know!’ It’s positively a joyous journey that the viewers has been absorbing so lovingly. It’s effectively acquired, and I perceive why.”

“I actually need audiences to remove the enjoyment that’s inside the room, the magic that occurs between the viewers and the actors on stage,” Jones added. I need them to take a bit of that magic and that pleasure with them. One of many final songs we sing is “As Lengthy As There Is Love” — it’s going to be alright so long as there’s love. Remembering that, particularly throughout instances like this, and performing on love as a substitute of the rest — that’s what I need.”

When not spreading love and pleasure on the stage, Jones can be an intimacy doula. To assist her journey on and off the stage, comply with her on IG @jo.sheila. “Mrs. Doubtfire” will likely be at The Academy of Music February 6-18. To seek out out extra data on tickets and showtimes, go to: www.ensembleartsphilly.org.