Review Roundup: There Will Be Sun! GROUNDHOG DAY- All the Reviews!
Groundhog Day, the Olivier Award-winning new musical featuring music and lyrics by Tim Minchin and a book by Danny Rubin, and directed by Matthew Warchus, opens tonight, Monday April 17, on Broadway at the August Wilson Theatre.
The production's lead, Olivier Award winner and two-time Tony Award nominee Andy Karl, will play the role of Phil Connors for the opening night performance following an injury last Friday.
Meet Phil Connors (Andy Karl), a disgruntled big-city weatherman mysteriously stuck in small-town America reliving the same day over and over and over again-with no consequences, no regrets, no tomorrows, and no hangovers. But once he starts getting to know associate TV producer Rita Hanson (Barrett Doss), he discovers it's a day of second, third and fourth chances.
Based on the iconic film, Groundhog Day is re-imagined by the award-winning creators of the international hit Matilda The Musical-including director Matthew Warchus and songwriter Tim Minchin-with a book by original screenwriter Danny Rubin. Starring Olivier Award winner and two-time Tony Award nominee Andy Karl, Groundhog Day is the new musical comedy about living life to the fullest, one day at a time.
The cast of Groundhog Day features Andy Karl, who stars as Phil Connors, following his celebrated performance in the show's well-received London's production at The Old Vic last summer, and newcomer Barrett Doss (You Can't Take It With You, Burning at The New Group) as Rita Hanson.
Let's see what the critics had to say!
Ben Brantley, The New York Times: Repetition is an art of infinite variety as it's practiced by Andy Karl in "Groundhog Day," the dizzyingly witty new musical from the creators of "Matilda." Portraying a man doomed to relive a single day over and over and over again in a small town that becomes his custom-fitted purgatory, Mr. Karl is so outrageously inventive in ringing changes on the same old, same old, that you can't wait for another (almost identical) day to dawn.
David Cote, Time Out New York: The meta way to review Groundhog Day would be to repeat the same sarcastic, nit-picking paragraph three or four times before softening up and saying aw, heckfire, it's great!-thus breaking the spell of grouchy repetition. And while there are likeable, inspired elements in this musical adaptation of the great Bill Murray movie, time crawls as you wait for boorish weatherman Phil Connors to surrender to human kindness and true romance.
Chris Jones, Chicago Tribune: When it comes to credible depictions of small-town Pennsylvania, "Groundhog Day the Musical" is about as veracious as a woodchuck named Phil is a qualified rodent meteorologist. This British import to Broadway - staged by people for whom small-town America is a typology, rather than a collection of souls - is more Whoville than Punxsutawney. Director Matthew Warchus' overstuffed and near-chaotic production is similarly far from Woodstock, Ill., the doppelganger for exurban insularity used to film the 1993 movie - a film forged in the caustic and improvisational Second City style by the late, great Harold Ramis, with Bill Murray as his melancholic muse. Andy Karl, the handsome, courageous and hugely talented star of these musical proceedings, is closer to the open-face sandwich that is Jim Carrey than to the iconoclastic Cubs fan Murray, benign and dangerous, perplexing and perplexed and a guy who looked like he'd been knocked around by the storms of life. But, you know, this is still a new Broadway musical that works - even one that has a few moments of greatness, replayed and redux.
Robert Kahn, NBC New York: The creators of "Matilda" have worked their magic all over again. And again. "Groundhog Day," now open at the August Wilson Theatre, is a textured, twisted and ticklish comic musical from composer Tim Minchin and director Matthew Warchus. The book is by Danny Rubin, who also co-wrote the screenplay to the 1993 film starring Bill Murray. With a cast led by Andy Karl, as the cynical TV weatherman stuck in a time warp, "Groundhog Day" shares with "Matilda" both an intriguing darkness and enough on-stage razzle-dazzle to seize your attention and hold it across two generally gut-busting acts.
Chris Nashawty, Entertainment Weekly: Coming off of a well-received run in London at the Old Vic, Groundhog Day - with a book by the original film's screenwriter Danny Rubin, music and lyrics by Tim Minchin (Matilda the Musical), and direction by Matthew Warchus (also Matilda as well as The Norman Conquests and God of Carnage) - doesn't mess too much with that set-up. Why would anyone bother? It's jeweler precise after all. Instead, it gooses up the familiar with dazzling energy, creativity, wit, and heart. Besides Karl, much of the credit goes to the playful stage design and illusions by Rob Howell with Paul Kieve, and the whirling-dervish choreography of Peter Darling with Ellen Kane. At times, Groundhog Day feels more like a plate-spinning magic trick than a Broadway musical.
Robert Hofler, TheWrap: Minchin and Warchus, being British and Australian, might have something to do with the show's overall anti-Americana flair. They also bring a nice Dickensian touch to the story. Like Ebenezer Scrooge, weatherman Phil Conners learns to be a human being during the course of "Groundhog Day" without ever getting overly mushy about his transformation.The story of "Groundhog Day" plays so well on stage because it reflects the dilemma of its performers. Whereas movie actors do a few takes and are done with it, the cast of any successful musical is fated to keep repeating itself for hundreds, if not thousands, of performances. "Groundhog Day" mines that existential problem.
Linda Winer, Newsday: The creative team that deftly balanced the nasty with the comic in "Matilda" finds at least as much special chemistry in this surreal challenge, a romantic comedy and life lesson that, in the words of one of the characters, "messes with the space-time continuum." Tim Minchin's music beguiles with odd phrase lengths and wildly unpredictable, amusing lyrics, while director Matthew Warchus and his first-rate cast take us through the day and its many conflations with a light touch that belies the head-spinning concept and scenic intricacy.
David Rooney, Hollywood Reporter: Unlike far too many musicals regurgitated from hit movies, Groundhog Day is a delirious reinvention with its own defiantly unique personality, a relentless forward-backward spin that leaves you smiling, exhilarated and giddy, much like the Tilt-a-Whirl ride that briefly occupies the stage in the show's second act. The fiendishly crafty creative team has devised a musical that cracks open the source material to amplify its themes, using the story's collision of misanthropy and sweetness to explore existential questions about lives stuck in neutral and the liberating power to unlock meaningful change by savoring every moment as a fresh experience.
Joe Dziemianowicz, The New York Daily News: If a groundhog sees its shadow, there'll be six more weeks of winter. If you see "Groundhog Day," there'll be 2 hours and 45 minutes of kinetic and sometimes witty but ultimately wearying antics. Fortunately, there's a silver lining: musical-comedy dreamboat Andy Karl, who puts his own irresistible stamp on the arrogant TV weatherman played in the 1993 film by Bill Murray. Karl is hunky, hilarious and huggable as nasty newsman Phil Connors, who gets trapped in a time loop in Punxsutawney, Pa. Karl banged up his knee on stage last week. He was set to perform on Monday for the show's opening at the August Wilson Theatre.
Charles Isherwood, Broadway News: It would be nice to report that, despite these travails, the show, with a book by Danny Rubin, who co-wrote the 1993 movie, and a score by Tim Minchin, of "Matilda" renown, deserves the plaudits it has already received in London, including an Olivier Award for best musical and another for Karl as leading actor. But I'm afraid the production, simultaneously frenetic and static, left me just about as glum as its protagonist is at curtain rise. Life would be grim indeed if I had to wake up and face this tedious, charm-free and often tasteless show again day after day.
Jeremy Gerard, Deadline: But star and set were in fine form for the opening, and while Groundhog Day may not actuially be the best musical, it is, as I said, very good. This will come as a surprise, no doubt, to diehard fans of the film, which starred Murray as Phil Connors, a self-loving Pittsburgh weatherman assigned for the third year running to hit the road for Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania to cover the annual rite of P-Phil and his shadow. Accompanied by his producer and camerman (Andie MacDowell and Chris Elliott, in the film), Pittsburgh Phil approaches Punxsutawney Phil and all his human Punxsutawney denizens with loathing and condescension, and basically can't wait to get out.
Marilyn Stasio, Variety: Under Matthew Warchus's helming, Phil's adventures in Punxsutawney are like Alice's adventures in Wonderland - fantastical and fun. Rob Howell's set designs and Paul Kieve's illusions rely on amusing optical illusions like miniature car chases and teeny-tiny houses that curl around the proscenium. These funny folk even build a sort-of functional truck on stage.
Jesse Green, Vulture: Which is not to say that the manic business of the first act is entirely excused by the richer reflectiveness of the second. There were plenty of times throughout when I felt, with Phil, that I'd seen this all before. The adaptation from the film is, in that sense, too faithful; despite the musical's theatrical cleverness it is often literal and choppy, like word-by-word Google translation. But at least it gets better as it loops along. Perhaps all it needs is a few thousand more iterations.
Alicia Lutes, Nerdist: How much would you be able to accomplish if the limits of time did not exist? Would you search for higher meaning, a better understanding of the world and the people in it, or simply get a bit out-of-hand and reckless? So much can happen in an instant, and if we could turn back time (feel free to sing that line, btw), there's little doubt we'd all change something about our actions in the past. Such is the conceit at the heart of Groundhog Day, the Broadway musical adaptation of the 1993 Bill Murray starrer of the same name, opening Monday, April 17th at the August Wilson Theater in New York City. And that they find the time to accomplish by repeating the past proves the limit does not exist-in the right hands.
Tim Teeman, Daily Beast: This embracing of convention which Groundhog Day ultimately proposes is wrapped in a familiar redemption story. Yet the best things about Groundhog Day the musical are when the strangeness of the town, and Phil's extreme, snarled responses to it, are left on full, jangling boil. The musical is less convincing when it muffles itself to niceness; and it meanders far too lackadaisically to a conclusion. But at its center is Karl, a newly-minted Broadway hero, bravely performing through his pain. The question is, can he do this without hurting himself further, and should the producers let him: human costs versus performing costs.