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'Mrs. Doubtfire' stars talk Broadway show and why the movie was 'radical'

Lisa Jakub, who played Lydia Hillard in the 1993 movie, and Analise Scarpaci, who takes on the role in the Broadway version, talked to TODAY.

Nearly three decades after "Mrs. Doubtfire" delighted '90s kids, a new musical adaptation of the beloved movie has said "Hellooooo!" to Broadway.

Lisa Jakub, who played eldest child Lydia Hillard in the film, recently saw the show at New York's Stephen Sondheim Theatre, and shared her thoughts with Analise Scarpaci, who plays Lydia in the Broadway version, during a joint interview with TODAY.

"I continue to be shocked at the fact that this story keeps resonating for people," Jakub said. "It's such an honor to know that these ideas about, you know, love is what makes a family — these still are continuing and people that I know who are, you know, my age who watched this movie growing up are now showing it to their kids. It's just so wonderful to know that this is a story that continues to be important and meaningful for people."

Lisa Jakub, seen with Robin Williams, played Lydia Hillard in the 1993 hit film "Mrs. Doubtfire."
Lisa Jakub, seen with Robin Williams, played Lydia Hillard in the 1993 hit film "Mrs. Doubtfire."Alamy Stock Photo

The movie was a childhood favorite for Scarpaci, which made nabbing the role of Lydia even more meaningful.

"My dad and I would watch this movie, without fail, anytime that it was on," she said. "My dad was the first one to show me the movie, and when I knew that they were auditioning girls who were 18 and older to play Lydia, I was like, 'Oh, my gosh, I love this movie so much. I need to play this role.' And I was fortunate enough to audition and I got the role the next day."

The performance Jakub attended marked the show's reopening on April 14 after a COVID-19-related hiatus.

"It was absolutely surreal," Jakub said. "I have been wanting to see it for such a long time. And Analise and I have become such good friends. We met on Instagram. I am a huge fan of her and so to be able to finally get to see it — and it was just so much better than I ever could have imagined. So it was a truly beautiful evening."

Scarpaci said stepping into the role was "a lot of pressure," since the movie "means a lot to a lot of people."

However, she added, "What we really found was that they really, really loved it and we had people coming up to us saying that they loved the movie and that they loved what it represented, especially for children of divorce. And we had a lot of adults who were children of divorce and they would come see the show and they were just weeping, and thanking us for telling the story."

Scarpaci said Rob McClure, who plays the title role on Broadway, often points out that unlike "Mrs. Doubtfire," other '90s family flicks like "The Parent Trap" end with the parents reuniting.

"This was the first movie of its time that the parents — it was like, 'It's OK,'" she observed. "It's better for our family if they aren't together. And that's OK." 

"That really was very radical for that time period," Jakub said. "We, I think now, have moved forward a little bit and understand this a little bit better, but it really was a very conscious decision that was a little bit contentious at times about possibly the parents getting back together at the end. 

"That was something that, you know, the producers had talked about, and it was so important to us to say, 'No, this is real life. It does not always have a happy ending.' And what a great opportunity to talk about, even if life doesn't work out the way you expected, you can still be OK."

Jakub thinks the Broadway show is "a fantastic reimagining of the story."

"They have made it modern, they have gone in different directions than we did, and I think this idea of re-creating family is something that we still need to hear," she said. "The idea that a family can be a single mom, a single dad, two dads, two moms, grandmas, aunts, you know, people who aren't even related by blood, that we make family out of love. And I think that that is just such an important concept that just needs to be reinforced over and over again."

Reflecting on the legacy of her late co-star Robin Williams, who originated the iconic role of Mrs. Doubtfire in the movie, Jakub added, "Robin was an incredibly kind, emotional, thoughtful, incredible person and he wanted to bring joy to people's lives. So I think this would have meant a lot to him."