A couple of months ago, a Google Calendar invite came through from Husband titled “Groundhog Day”. This confused me for a number of reason – it wasn’t the 2nd February, we hadn’t spoken about this, and I had absolutely no idea what it was.
As it turns out, he had managed to get us tickets for the new Groundhog Day musical at the Old Vic which further confused me – there’s a Groundhog Day musical? I mean, I love the film (who doesn’t?) but I couldn’t see how (or why) it would translate to the stage. Especially in musical form.
It was layer upon layer of bewilderment for me, but I’m quite glad that the tickets were booked without wasting time on decision making, as we ended up with really great seats for a very funny, dark, and endearing musical.
It officially opens on the 16th August so technically we saw one of the preview shows, not that you’d notice as everything was perfect. The very attractive Andy Karl plays Phil Connors (a name impossible to say without channelling Ned Ryerson) and his pretty face fills the on-stage screens in pre-recorded weather reports before the curtains go up. I had my doubts about how well he could fill Bill Murray’s boots (he is far too handsome) but he utterly aced it. Carlyss Peer plays Rita adorably, and the heart of the audience was warmed when the inevitable happened at the end.
The staging is inspired, and features an amazing car chase, an elaborate representation of Phil’s descent into despair, and a sinisterly sardonic giant groundhog. The first half is fairly cheery, and I was worried that they’d run out of content, but things got dark after the interval. Really dark. I wouldn’t recommend it for children, especially not the children sat around us who seemed terrified at points.
There was also an amazing bit of theatre magic which I won’t spoil, but it delighted everyone in the auditorium. People were wide-eyed and open-mouthed. It was brilliant.
I love how there are nods to feminism, fake alternative therapies, and a nice Brexit/US elections analogy. Those parts felt very Tim Minchin. I’m not quite sure why the woman in front of us burst into tears at a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it subplot featuring Larry the cameraman, but I’m glad she felt emotionally connected to him. I found myself moved (almost) to tears a couple of times, and it definitely made me want to see the film again.
The musical runs until 17th September, so see it whilst you can. After that, it transfers to Broadway. I might see if I can convince Husband to take me to New York next year to see it…