Goodbye to Groundhog Day

This year, I’ve seen four new musicals, which is quite a lot to see within a year for me. Alas, of those four, one closed right after my friends and I went to see it and today, two more are closing.

Groundhog Day and Bandstand are playing their final performances today, which is a real shame. They were my favorites this year and they really deserved to go on longer runs. So I’m writing goodbye posts for them, but they’re separate because I have a lot of feels, mmkay?

Groundhog Day is based on the Bill Murray dramedy about a cynical weatherman who gets stuck covering Groundhog Day in Punxsutawney, PA and living the same day over and over again.

The main reason I was really excited to see this was the composer, Tim Minchin. He composed Matilda the Musical, which I loved, as well as a bunch of rude and comic songs, which I also love.

Andy Karl–who tore his ACL onstage just before the musical officially opened–played Phil Connors, the cynical weatherman, and Barrett Doss played Rita Hanson, Phil’s associate producer and romantic interest. I’ve seen the show once; on the night I was there, not only was Andy Karl still wearing a knee brace for his injury, but they had to stop the show for a few minutes when a set piece on one of the stage’s revolvers didn’t move on cue.

What I loved and connected to the most in this show is the message of hope, that we should strive to be our best selves, that we should try not to waste our time on earth with petty shit–but it isn’t sappy or like a typical musical, I guess. All of that wrapped in a musical with great melodies, fantastic staging, and lots of movement and really clever lyrics.

My friend Jess, who has seen the show several times, when asked what resonated with her the most from Groundhog Day, said, I think superficially I love the humor and cleverness of it from the lyrics to the staging. But then the message I got from it was a reminder to not be self-absorbed but show kindness to others. And redemption is possible, just have to work at it.”

My friend Nali has seen Groundhog Day four times. At the August 31st performance, Tim Minchin came out for the curtain call. She said the audience was really into the show that night as well, which is so great to hear. Because the show was fresh for her, she had a lot to say about what resonated to her: “For me it was definitely the snark and wit in the lyrics — a seemingly inspirational song (Hope) about not giving up hope which is actually about him giving up hope that he can kill himself. Overall the message does move the audience to be less self involved but it’s not preachy — it’s the theater version of “showy not Telly.'”

Nali also noted, “The set design was crazy amazing! They weren’t elaborate set pieces but even when they moved it was like a dance and fluid. They managed to create a sense of perspective. Looking into the room from outside, then you’re inside. But then it’s sparse — there are moments when he wakes up and it’s just his bed. You don’t need the rest of it anymore because his room is already well defined. And the room’s size changes with his mental state. When he’s dismissive or frustrated, the three pieces are locked in. When he realized he can do whatever he wants – the set piece was just his bed. The town only had a few characters and I felt like I really got to know all of them. It wasn’t just a Phil story.”

Jess is seeing the show again tonight, so I’m sure it’ll be an emotional last show. Groundhog Day is going on a national tour, though, so keep your eyes peeled!

2 thoughts on “Goodbye to Groundhog Day

  1. I saw the movie about a decade ago, after it was already a classic to some people. I'm glad they're going on tour! I've wondered sometimes what it means when a show is closing on broadway. But speaking of touring, Hairspray is finally coming my way in January, I think. Freaking exciting. 🙂


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