Groundhog Day

bb7-Groundhog-Day-Broadway-Musical-Artwork-2017-billboard-1240If the Tony Awards had a category for “Best Stage Magical,” it would go to “Groundhog Day.” They will have to settle for “Best Scenic Design in a Musical,” which is accurate, but not sufficiently poetic. In other words, the staging is absolutely fabulous.

The rest of the evening is fun as well, bringing the 1993 Harold Ramis fantasy romcom to the Broadway stage. Twice Tony-nominated, Andy Karl takes the Bill Murray role as snarky weatherman Phil Collins, who is fated to re-live February 2 over and over again until he gets it right — and gets the girl. Relative newcomer Barrett Doss plays the Andie MacDowell role of assistant producer Rita Hanson. No ringlet-haired Southern belle, Doss makes her character an existential angst-ridden daughter of the Midwest, still looking for Mr. Right despite all the evidence.

Odd that the leading man has two first names and the leading lady two last names, but that’s contemporary theater. So is the language, which turns a PG film into an R musical.

Good songs capture the evolution of Phil Collins as each re-living of Groundhog Day makes his initially supercilious character manic, then depressive and finally noble. The voices are all crystal clear, the choreography on-point and did we mention the staging? There is a car chase scene that brought down the house.

The first night of previews famously had a technical glitch fifteen minutes in when the turntable, central to many of the effects, groundhogged to a halt. The company finished that show concert-style. We saw it the next night, and it was flawless.

In previews at the August Wilson Theatre, opens April 17.

Philip Neches

2 Responses to “Groundhog Day”

  1. Phil and I mostly agree on matters cultural, but oh, my, Phil, we’re miles apart here. At the performance we saw last night, the turntable worked, but little else did for us. Indeed, we were in agony until the intermission gave us our chance to escape. It’s hard to comprehend how a production team can transform a terrific movie into a forgettable musical. We could start with composer/lyricist Tim Minchin, whose previous effort was “Mathilda,” a children’s musical. Well, he’s got that genre nailed. Or whoever decided to include a song about an enema –full demonstration included (which elicited guffaws from the audience), along with enema-related lyrics. Are you getting the idea?

    See the movie.

  2. Sorry Phil, I’m with Ben. First, Dale tells me that the theatre gets high marks for the Ladies Room. Unfortunately, the seats would have been better designed by Jet Blue with extra legroom.

    Ben, you were smarter than we were. We got the point in the first 30 minutes but stayed 2.5 hours to hear and watch over and over and over.

    Had we seen the film, we’d never have gone to the show.

    Andy Karl braved his way through with a leg brace and did his job very well. Frankly, everyone did his/her job very well……….and we just found it boring.

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