Happy Memorial Day weekend!! Since I haven't written a review in a while, I'll post two today! Recently I saw the new Tony nominee for Best Musical, "Groundhog Day."
"Groundhog Day" is an adaptation of the 1993 cult classic film starring Bill Murray. The story revolves around Phil Connors, an arrogant weatherman who has to report the annual Groundhog Day festivities in the small town of Punxsutawney, PA. Inexplicably, Connors must relive February 2nd over and over again, until he learns how to become a better person and win the heart of his coworker, Rita. The musical's book is written by Danny Rubin, who also wrote the original film's screenplay. The show follows the film, but also deviates from it, adding new moments/scenes to make it more than just a simple screen-to-stage adaptation. The score and lyrics are written by Tim Minchin (who also wrote "Matilda"). The music covers MANY different genres, from country ("Nobody Cares"), to hard rock ("Hope"), and moving ballads ("Night Will Come" and the finale "Seeing You"). Minchin's lyrics are incredibly clever and unique, especially in songs like "One Day" and "Stuck." Despite a repetitive premise, the material presents slightly different moments as the same day is relived over and over again, so the show never drags.
Andy Karl is PHENOMENAL as Phil Connors!!! He is playing an incredibly demanding role, and giving a comedic tour de force performance-- one of the best this season. He infamously tore his ACL a few days before opening night, but jumped back into the role so quickly, and even incorporated his knee brace into a few ad libbed jokes. His character arc is played perfectly, from his unlikable personality in the first act, to his newfound humility in the surprisingly touching second act. I am thrilled that he was nominated for Tony Award (his third nomination) for this role!!! Opposite Karl is newcomer Barrett Doss as Rita. She gives a terrific performance, and I hope it's the first of many on Broadway. I also loved John Sanders as Ned Ryerson, especially his performance of the underrated and beautiful second act ballad, "Night Will Come." The rest of the ensemble are perfectly quirky as the different citizens of Punxsutawney.
The set is designed by Rob Howell, and consists of a complex series of turntables around the stage. This paves the way for some truly genius staging moments, especially the car chase segment of the "Nobody Cares" number, and the entirety of "Hope." Since "Groundhog Day" was originally a film with many cinematic jump cuts and quick edits, some of those techniques are replicated on stage with the turntables, representing the different choices Connors makes as the day repeats.
"Groundhog Day" is such an excellent, well-written musical, and I highly recommend it!! It's both hilarious and heartwarming; the perfect balance for a night at the theatre. I want to see it again and again! I am so glad it was recognized with 7 well-deserved Tony nominations! It is currently playing at the August Wilson Theatre. I give it 10/10 escapes!!