Previewed 15 July 2016, Opened 16 August 2016, Closed 17 September 2016 at the Old Vic Theatre
The new stage musical Groundhog Day in London - adapted from the hit 1993 movie and including new songs by Tim Minchin.
Groundhog Day is the story of Phil Connors, an arrogant Pittsburgh TV weatherman who, when sent to cover the annual Groundhog Day event in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, finds himself caught in a time loop where he is forced to repeat the same day again and again... and again. PLEASE NOTE: Recommended for ages thirteen and above.
The cast features Andy Karl as 'Phil Connors' with Carlyss Peer as 'Rita Hanson', Leo Andrew, David Birch, Ste Clough, Roger Dipper, Georgina Hagen, Kieran Jae, Julie Jupp, Andrew Langtree, Vicki Lee Taylor, Emma Lindars, Antonio Magro, Carolyn Maitland, Kirsty Malpass, Matthew Malthouse, Lisa Mathieson, Eugene McCoy, Jenny O’Leary, Leanne Pinder, Mark Pollard, Damien Poole, Jack Shalloo, Andrew Spillett, Spencer Stafford. Directed by Matthew Warchus with choreography by Peter Darling and designs by Rob Howell. Adapted from the 1993 movie by Danny Rubin with music and lyrics by Tim Minchin.
When this production opened here at the Old Vic Theatre in August 2016, Ann Treneman in the Times hailed it as being "so much fun that it should be illegal... the result is a musical that is funny, frantic and, at times, very touching. The choreographer Peter Darling has created a rambunctious madcap feel. The set by Rob Howell is a joy." Michael Billington in the Guardian said that "the result is fantastically smart, clever and witty, but I have to say it left my heart untouched... The extra ingredient supplied by the musical is a dynamic theatricality. Countless dramatists have exploited the possibilities of repetition, and Matthew Warchus’s production plays extravagant variations on the theme... But while the show is high-grade fun, I enjoyed it more for its dazzling theatrical expertise than for its much thinner emotional content." Quentin Letts for the Daily Mail highlighted how "the cast performs with enviable energy. The eventual realisation by sarcastic weatherman Phil Connors that he needs to be less selfish is heartening. But that sweet ending is too long coming and the story’s structure makes much of the show inescapably repetitive." Henry Hitchings in the London Evening Standard explained that "the book is the work of Danny Rubin, who wrote the original film script, and it has the same nerveless mix of fantasy and misanthropy. But while the movie’s spirit is intact, Tim Minchin packs in a multitude of new jokes, and his score inhabits half a dozen different idioms, ranging from country and western to anthemic rock. Director Matthew Warchus matches him for wit, with Rob Howell’s clever designs integral to the show’s fluency and ingenuity." Neil Norman in the Daily Express wrote that, "based on the 1993 film starring Bill Murray, the story is stretched and darkened, making it even more of a morality tale... The result is a sophisticated, very funny and occasionally profound musical. What it lacks are memorable songs... However, the production is breathtaking... Reservations aside, this is a musical that could be seen again and again... and again." Dominic Cavendish in the Daily Telegraph praised how "a much-loved, ingeniously funny and clever Hollywood film has made a triumphant theatrical rebirth - in a show that looks, on first viewing, equal to, and perhaps better than, the movie.... but what is clear is that Groundhog Day is as funny and as touching as you could wish, and it lands with the confidence of an instant classic." Ian Shuttleworth in the Financial Times thought that, as Phil, "Andy Karl lacks the extreme poker-faced sardonicism, but adroitly runs the gamut from suicidal despair to dedicated altruism."
This production re-unites the award-winning creative team behind the hit musical Matilda which is currently playing at the Cambridge Theatre in London's West End. Matthew Warchus' other stage musical directing credits include Ghost at the Piccadilly Theatre in 2011, Lord of the Rings at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane in 2007 and the Madness musical Our House at the Cambridge Theatre in 2002.
"The original Bill Murray movie of Groundhog Day must surely be in pretty much everyone's top 10 comedy films. Now it has been turned into a stage musical, which sounds like a risky proposition, except that it has the same dream team behind it who gave us the much-loved Matilda: music and lyrics by Tim Minchin, direction by Matthew Warchus. The book is by Danny Rubin, who also scripted the film, with Harold Ramis. What it doesn't have, of course, is Murray. But it does have the Broadway star Andy Karl, who's a great success as cynical weatherman Phil Connors: an updated Scrooge, pouring scorn on these small-town festivities and jollities with metropolitan arrogance... Thanks to the darkly funny, twisted and ever-ingenious lyrics of Minchin the fairy-tale morality of the story slips in digestibly and almost unnoticed. The music is agreeable pastiches of country and western, jazz and some big stirring choruses, although there are no standout songs... It's a visual treat with neat magical illusions and a school-play-level car chase that is irresistible. Overall, this isn't quite the instant classic we got with Matilda. But it's a thoroughly likeable show that could well see a West End transfer." The Sunday Times
"There's a sense of history repeating itself with this musical version of the much-loved film, which reunites Matilda director Matthew Warchus with stand-up turned lyricist Tim Minchin. Yet the real story here is the unknown American actor Andy Karl, who banishes all memory of Bill Murray as the rancorous weatherman Phil, forced to report anew on the same Groundhog festivities in the desperately small town of Punxsutawney after a freak time glitch means he is compelled to relive the same day again and again. It's a challenge to repeat the same phrases ad infinitum without sending your audience to sleep, but Karl is such a suave, technically dazzling performer you can't take your eyes - or ears - off him. Even better, he - brings a savagely funny, existential nihilism to the beleaguered Phil as first he starts going out of his mind with boredom, then realises there are advantages to his situation and starts boozing and shagging like there is no tomorrow - which in his case, there isn't. Warchus cuts a distinct theatrical fabric for his version of a film that inspires proprietorial passion in its fans, casting Phil inside a grimly kitsch, topsy-turvy set that defies the laws of physics with its tiny, upside down houses, rooms that feel too small for their inhabitants and snow that falls the wrong way. Minchin's big musical numbers do the job, too, although it's clear here that he's a better lyricist than he is composer. And it's a pity that Phil's love interest Rita, an underwhelming Carlyss Peer, still feels little more than a plot device. The all-American ending, with its corny message that life will treat you well if you treat people nice, also leaves a sour taste. But this is still a terrific adaptation of a movie many considered pointless to remake." The London Metro
Groundhog Day in London at the Old Vic Theatre previewed from 15 July 2016, opened on 16 August 2016 and closed on 17 September 2016.