The musical, which closed temporarily last month as the Omicron variant spread, had hoped to reopen in March.
The Broadway musical “Mrs. Doubtfire,” which closed temporarily last month as Omicron battered New York, announced Friday that it would postpone its reopening until April 14, a month later than anticipated, to give the theater economy a bit more time to rebound.
“The good news is that it looks like the virus is calming down, but there are still a lot of unknowns,” said the show’s lead producer, Kevin McCollum. “It was just clear that April was a better time to open, given the trends with tourism, and thinking about when families and groups will start to feel comfortable.”
The hiatus left the show’s cast, crew and musicians without work (at least at “Doubtfire”), but McCollum said he thought it was the best way to attempt to preserve their jobs longer term. And on Friday, he said he had invited the entire cast to return, and was hopeful that they would do so.
The musical, adapted from the popular 1993 film, has traveled a bumpy road: After an out-of-town run at 5th Avenue Theater in Seattle, it began previews on Broadway on March 9, 2020, just three days before the coronavirus pandemic forced all theaters to close. After a 19-month hiatus, the show resumed previews last October and opened Dec. 5, to mixed reviews, just as Omicron was causing cases to spike again.
“If there was an award for worst timing for a producer, I will take that award,” McCollum said. “My timing was terrible.”
But McCollum said he believes that the show will work if given a chance, and that he is committed to trying to preserve the jobs of his company, many of whom have been working on the show for several years.
“The easiest path would have been to say, ‘OK, we’re done,’ but the show was telling us we’re not done,” he said. “We just never got our sea legs because of Omicron.”
One additional advantage to reopening in April: Tony nominators and voters who did not catch the show before it began its hiatus on Jan. 10 will now have another chance to do so before casting their ballots. (This year’s Tony calendar has not yet been announced, but the season is expected to end in late April, followed by nominations, voting and an awards ceremony.)
“Mrs. Doubtfire” was written by Karey Kirkpatrick, Wayne Kirkpatrick and John O’Farrell, and directed by Jerry Zaks. A second production of the show is scheduled to begin performances in Manchester, England, in September.
“Mrs. Doubtfire” was the first of three Broadway shows to announce a temporary closing as the Omicron surge caused audiences to dwindle — “To Kill a Mockingbird” closed on Jan. 16 and said it would reopen at a different theater on June 1, while “Girl From the North Country” closed Jan. 23 and said it hoped to reopen in the spring. (Six other shows closed for good.)
Unions representing actors and musicians did not immediately respond to requests for comment on the “Mrs. Doubtfire” plans. D. Joseph Hartnett, the stagecraft department director at the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE), said that his union, which represents stagehands, had not had yet heard from the show and “presumes the production has and still is officially closed.”