Aaron Kaburick is a Broadway veteran hitting the stage once again as Frank Hillard in “Mrs. Doubtfire” the musical.
Aaron Kaburick has been around the block. Make that blocks, like those around Times Square and beyond. The actor is a veteran of half a dozen Broadway musicals—including “Billy Elliot,” “Hello, Dolly!,” and “Something Rotten!”—and multiple national tours like “The Full Monty” and the 30th Anniversary tour of “Annie.” He’s also performed in cities on all three coasts: New York, Seattle, San Diego, San Francisco and St. Louis.
Now, Kaburick comes to DC as part of the 31-city tour of “Mrs. Doubtfire.” The new musical comedy, based on the 1993 movie, runs October 10 to October 15 at the plush National Theatre.
Read on, poppets, for Kaburick’s thoughts on stepping into a new role, a new take on the story and bringing the musical to our nation’s capital.
District Fray: Covid-interrupted the original Broadway production of “Mrs. Doubtfire” for almost two years before it closed in April 2022. How has the tour been going?
Aaron Kaburick: It’s been a great tour so far. We started in Buffalo, then Hartford. DC will be our third city. I’ve been a part of this show since 2019. I’ve known from our first reading how special it is, so it’s nice to finally hear big audiences laugh a lot and see them be moved by a great story. The writers did a terrific job adapting the movie into a beautiful script for us to perform.
You play Frank Hillard, who helps his brother Daniel (played by Rob McClure) become Mrs. Doubtfire. What’s it like playing a role you understudied on Broadway?
As an understudy, you’d love to bring your full self to the role, but your main responsibility is to make the show running as smoothly as it did the night before. You essentially do what the original performer does so no one is thrown off.
What has been fantastic for the tour is the creative team came back to change jokes and lines for us. The writers—Karey Kilpatrick, Wayne Kilpatrick and John O’Farrell—helped us to make the show our own. That doesn’t always happen. A large part of that comes from our legendary director, Jerry Zaks. He’s so good at figuring out what makes you shine as a performer. We played around until we figured out what the best version of the role is for me.
They also updated the time period, yes?
It’s very much updated. Cell phones are around. Wi-fi factors heavily into the show in a very smart and comical way. There’s a major production number called “Easy Peasy” where Mrs. Doubtfire turns to YouTube to figure out how to quickly cook a meal. It comes to life to teach her and hilarity ensues.
How does the new script handle representations of gender and sexual identities?
From day one, the writers were saying ‘There were ideas that passed in 1993 that fortunately do not pass now.’ They were excited at the opportunity to update a lot.
I was a teenager when the movie came out. Frank Hillard (played by Harvey Fierstein) was one of the first gay characters I saw in a movie that wasn’t a joke. For our production, it’s very clear that [Frank and his partner] are married. There’s nothing hidden about it. I love that.
We also have an enormous amount of diversity in the company, including some nonbinary cast members. Throughout our entire process, our creative team was very open to hearing what we were comfortable and uncomfortable with. They have worked very hard at making sure there are no jokes about gender. It still feels like the source material but with a more open-minded view.
The tour goes to over 30 cities between now and July 2024. How do you pack for that?
I try to travel as lightly as I can. I’m very clear with the company that they will see me in the same clothes all the time (laughs). I’ll wash them but you’re going to see them all the time. I like to have room, too, if I find a cool shirt in Austin or wherever.
What are you most looking forward to about playing D.C.?
D.C. is actually the one major city I’ve never played. I’ve seen many shows there, and spent a big chunk of time there a year and a half ago because my husband, Patrick Wetzel, was in “The Prom” tour at the Kennedy Center. We’re getting a tour of the Library of Congress, which has been top of my list for a while. I might hit the Hirshhorn. I’m mainly excited to finally play D.C. I’ll probably walk into The National with a bunch of questions. I love seeing and hearing the history of old theaters. They don’t build them like that anymore.
“Mrs. Doubtfire” runs from October 10-15. Find tickets and more info here.
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