It is always amazing to me to see non-traditional casting alive and well on Broadway, and that is what is happening currently in the Broadway musical “Mrs. Doubtfire,” playing at the Stephen Sondheim Theatre at 124 W. 43rd Street, only through May 29. Yes, 9-year-old, New Jersey native actress Austin Elle Fisher plays little Natalie Hillard in the musical comedy. Although the rest of the marvelous cast of family members—Rob McClure (Daniel Hillard), Jenn Gambatese (Miranda Hillard), Analise Scarpaci (Lydia Hillard) and Titus Landegger (Christopher Hillard)—are white, Fisher completely just fits in. When she is on the stage you don’t see color, you just see the energy, spirit and charm of a delightful, engaging young actress.
Fisher recently sat down to speak with the AmNews about what it’s like to be in “Mrs. Doubtfire.”
“It’s honestly really fun because everyone can connect. It feels like we are a real family,” Fisher exclaimed. Explaining how she got considered for the role and what followed, this engaging child said, “When I got the audition, I got it because the original cast Natalie and Christopher had gotten too old to do the show. For the first two days of rehearsal, I could not make it, I was in Long Island filming something else. I made it Wednesday, so I had a private session and went over things. Then the other kids came in and we did it all together, we learned staging and how to say things, the secret is just practice, practice, practice.”
Watching Fisher on stage, she looks like she is having so much fun. And while she admits that that is what is happening, she shared, “But it can be intense, because you have to do things at certain times. It is scripted and you have to do things certain ways and at times, but you can still say it in a different way with a different emotion.”
Talking about her training to get to where she is at her young age, Fisher said, “Training—I started at the Prep in New Jersey last year. I take acting and vocal lessons. I want to be an actress, because I like the way that even though it’s scripted, you can feel different emotions and express yourself in different ways. When I was 4 or 5 I was acting, but I didn’t get anything super big. I was doing background work. I didn’t have an agent. My mom asked me if I wanted to do this. I said yes and I got a manager and an agent. This made me so, this is what I like to do and I’m going to keep doing it for a while.”
Kristi Fisher, Austin’s mother, was also on hand and spoke of what she saw in her child. “She started dancing at the age of 2 and was competing at age 3 and I could see a joy even at that young age. She was just up there shining and enjoying it. We talked about it and I wanted to make sure it was something she really wanted to do. I’m checking all the time to ask if she wants to do it. I want her to love it and she does. I can see the pure joy on her face in ‘Mrs. Doubtfire.’ I love it. I tell her it’s a Black joy.”
Looking at Fisher’s plans after this production, her mother shared, “She’s working on a small part in a series for a major screening service. The show is closing abruptly, so she gets a break. Then we’ll see. I try to find a balance between her performing life and still her being a regular 9-year-old kid.”
Before the show closes on May 29, Fisher hopes people come out: “It’s really funny. If you see it and you’re feeling sad it will always be that type of show that can cheer you up,” Fisher proclaimed.
For more info, visit www.mrsdoubtfirebroadway.com