Rachel Neumeier

Fantasy and Young Adult Fantasy Author

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Groundhog Day, the Musical

“Groundhog Day” seems it would be hard to pull off as a musical, but hey, after “Hamilton,” I’m willing to believe that anything can work if it’s done well.

Here’s a review:

Over the past 24 years, Groundhog Day has proven itself to have a surprisingly long tail. When the film was released on Feb. 12, 1993, it was regarded as little more than a better-than-average Bill Murray comedy about an arrogant TV weatherman forced by the cosmos to relive the same day over and over…and over again. Since then, however, the film has taken on a strange (and I’d argue well-deserved) second life as a deceptively deep philosophical meditation on the meaning of life — a high-brow statement hidden in a low-brow wrapper. It may be the closest thing the 20th century gave us to A Christmas Carol and the myth of Sisyphus.

Now, the seemingly simple tale has been given yet another wrinkle of interpretation (Singing! Dancing! An Actor in a Giant Marmot Costume!) with the wonderfully inventive Groundhog Day: The Musical, a giddy highlight of the current Broadway season. Before we get into it, though, a word of warning about what isn’t in this Groundhog Day: There’s no “I Got You Babe” from Sonny & Cher driving you mental from the bedside alarm clock; there’s no live rodent on stage (too literal…and too feral apparently); and, of course, there’s no Murray. That last one, I’m guessing, might be a deal-breaker for some — a reason to walk in to the August Wilson Theatre with a skeptic’s cocked eyebrow. But the show’s star, Andy Karl, brings his own brand of smarmy charm to the role of meteorologist Phil Connors and makes it his own before the night is over. Where Murray was rumpled, Karl is pressed and blow-dried. Where Murray was toxically bitter with spiky edges, Karl has more of a slick smugness, his edges smooth and sanded down. Karl may not be as unpredictable as Murray (then again, who is?!), but he conjures his own breed of jerky egomaniac. His energy is oily cool whereas Murray’s was prickly hot. And yet it takes Karl all of five minutes to win you over completely (resist as you might). It’s easy to see how he earned back-to-back Tony nominations for 2014’s Rocky The Musical and 2015’s On the Twentieth Century.

Read the whole thing; you’re practically guaranteed to wish you had tickets.

I wonder how it works just as a soundtrack? Cause it may be a loooong while before I have a chance to see it on stage.

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