In preparation for Groundhog Day, the musical, we chose Groundhog Day, the movie, for family movie night on Sunday. It was a great choice. It had been awhile since we had landed on a fun for the whole family, mostly wholesome, movie with a positive message that is as relevant today as it was in 1993. The kids are still hatching plans for what they would do if they were bestowed their very own Groundhog Day. What the movie did not scream to any of us was: MUSICAL! LET’S MAKE A MUSICAL OUT OF THIS.
Some questions that registered in my brain in anticipation of seeing the show were:
- How could Bill Murray’s curmudgeon weather man break into song but still stay true to his unappealing nature?
- How would they repeat this day over and over without it becoming mind numbingly repetitive and without the wonders and creative license of movie magic?
- How could one 2.5 hour show pack in all the lessons and activities that weatherman Phil experiences to achieve his life affirming transformation?
- How could they capture the chemistry between Rita and Phil so well played back in the day by Andie McDowell and Bill Murray?
- Would the Groundhog be live?
I am so utterly thankful for the creative minds in this world who did have the vision and talent to transform this into a musical, because the show was even more pleasant and fun than the movie. It stayed remarkably close to the movie script to successfully achieve all of the answers to my questions.
What seeing the movie did not do was prepare us for the sad news that Andy Karl, the Tony nominated actor, would not be performing in the lead role of Phil Connors. I got texts and emails with this jarring bit of information while I was in line to enter the theater. Wait, what?? With exactly zero nights in my schedule to consider a date change, we stayed the course and entered as planned.
In these situations I like to think of the understudy’s mother. I hope she was in the audience because her boy Andrew Call did a fine job! And I cheered for him all the more knowing this must have been a “take several deep breathes as this is my big shot and wow this is such a scary undertaking” situation. Didn’t hurt that Andrew, as Phil, was about 3 feet from my face at times as I craned my neck up from the front row to offer my quiet kudos.
FYI – This is not the best show to see from the front row. The stage is fairly high and by necessity there is a lot going on at all times. So for a better perspective I would recommend sitting 10 rows back or in the mezzanine.
In the end the cast and the “live your best version of yourself” story line had us all smiling, laughing, and cheering. 90% of the audience gave the show a standing ovation. Our group of about 12 gathered after the performance and uniformly agreed that it was a wonderful show and a great finale for the theater group.
Spoiler alert: the groundhog was not, in fact, live. But I did have to lean forward quite a bit JUST. TO. BE. SURE. Highly recommend this show (and the movie) and bring the older kids! Maybe 10 and up? There is some language and innuendo of sex.
Final medium big question: Did seeing this show change my vote for our Tony Poll? For those who were with me…did it change yours? Thanks to all who have voted. There is one show that has a distinct lead…but not saying which one just yet. Hop on here to cast your vote for the category of Best Musical. Even if you only saw one of the shows and feel passionately that said show should win – vote!