Interview: Andy Karl On Returning To GROUNDHOG DAY, the Show's International Success & More

Karl shares his thoughts on returning to the role Down Under, the show's Broadway run, and more.

By: Jan. 24, 2024
Interview: Andy Karl On Returning To GROUNDHOG DAY, the Show's International Success & More

BrodwayWorld sat down with Andy Karl to find out all about him living his own personal 'Groundhog Day' down under in Melbourne, the musical's Broadway run, and more. Karl returns to the role after originating the role in London (and returning to it once more last year) and on Broadway.

The Melbourne cast of Groundhog Day is led by Olivier Award-winning and Tony Award-nominated Andy Karl as Phil Connors - the cynical TV weatherman who finds himself caught in a time loop when sent to cover the annual Groundhog Day event in the small town of Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania.

Appearing alongside Andy Karl is Helpmann award-winning performer Elise McCann as the quick-witted and kind-hearted television producer Rita Hanson. Completing the cast are a company of talented Australian performers including Afua Adjei, Grant Almirall, Kaya Byrne, Kate Cole, Rachel Cole, Benjamin Colley, Andrew Coshan, Andrew Dunne, Madison Green, Matthew Hamilton, Matt Hourigan, Michael Lindner, Etuate Lutui, Conor Neylon, Ashleigh Rubenach, Jacob Steen, Connor Sweeney, Alison Whyte, Tim Wright and Kate Yaxley.

From the award-winning minds of Australia's Tim Minchin AM, the films original writer Danny Rubin and director Matthew Warchus, Groundhog Day the Musical is a gloriously joyful and heart-warming production.

Based on the 1993 hit film and from the creatives behind Matilda The Musical (on stage and film), this Tony-nominated and Olivier Award-winning (Best New Musical, Best Actor) musical sensation took the US and UK by storm is an enchanting comedy-musical of a man trapped inside one day on endless repeat.

The production features Set and Costume by Rob Howell (Matilda The Musical, A Christmas Carol), Choreography by Lizzi Gee (Little Shop of Horrors, A Christmas Carol), Orchestration, Additional Music and Musical Supervision by Christopher Nightingale (A Christmas Carol, Matilda The Musical), Lighting by Hugh Vanstone (A Christmas Carol, Back to the Future), Sound by Simon Baker (A Christmas Carol, Girl from the North Country), Illusions by Paul Kieve (Matilda The Musical, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban), Video and Animation by Andrzej Goulding (Sylvia, Eureka Day), and additional Movement by Finn Caldwell (Dr. Seuss's The Lorax, Life of Pi).

Groundhog Day The Musical is a Whistle Pig production, produced in Australia by GWB Entertainment, supported by Victoria's Tourism and Major Event fund, Visit Victoria. Groundhog Day The Musical was originally produced in partnership with The Old Vic.

The Melbourne exclusive season of Groundhog Day The Musical will play at the Princess Theatre from January 24, 2024.

What about this role and show keeps drawing you back?

That question has a multitude of answers. Firstly, it is the greatest script, score and philosophical idea I have ever worked on. Secondly, I’m highly aware of the irony of repeating a role of a character that is repeating the same day over and over in a production that is repeating itself and to me that is the greatest bit of meta-comedy I am sustaining. Third, I feel like Groundhog Day really has something to say about the big questions in life. This is a piece of theatre that has a strong statement about living life, the acceptance of death, love, respect and the profound strength derived from the people around you. All of which bubbles with comedy and theatre magic.

Do you ever feel like you’re living your own Groundhog Day moment doing this show?

Absolutely. It’s by choice, which is very different from being trapped in a time loop like Phil Conners. I’m definitely experiencing wild parallels to the show, and have for years. It does hit me quite hard when I say certain lines that comment on the endless repetition. But what’s such a thrill to me is the intensity of living a full character and story within the 2 1⁄2 hours on stage. I always feel truly satisfied at the end of each performance 

Those who saw the show on Broadway were quickly charmed by this incredibly unique show. Tim Minchin in a recent interview gave his thoughts on why the show might not have found an audience on Broadway after being a huge hit abroad. Have you found audiences receive the show differently outside the US?

I think those who have seen the show anywhere have responded so well to it. The Broadway run was an unfortunate set of circumstances that led to it having the MOST incredible reviews and accolades I’ve ever seen but not striking gold at the box office. I’ve seen lesser shows with absurd plot lines have extensive runs on Broadway so nothing is certain and art is subjective. What I know to be true is that Groundhog Day is a work of art. An elevation of original source material and a rich tapestry of comedy, philosophy, staging and theatre at a high concept with absolute accessibility. It is meant for everyone and every town that has a theatre. 

The production is incredibly physical... How do you prepare for getting back into an arduous show schedule?

Gym, yoga, caffeine, water, food, vocal warm up and unwavering determination to give audiences a really good time. 

What’s it like mounting the show with an entirely new company?

I enjoy it so much. There is nothing like seeing a new cast work so hard on something that they don’t entirely understand it’s power until it all comes together. The repetition is monotonous and tricky. I watch their eyes light up when they finally see the sum of all its parts make Groundhog Day the special show it is. My brain also has fun seeing new faces in the same costumes and feeling like I’m living some Marvel multi-verse movie 

What’s one moment you look forward to each night on stage?

There are many. One that is significant to me is singing Tim Minchin’s song “Seeing You” near the end of the show. It begins as a soliloquy as Phil is describing his incredible appreciation of being in this present moment that he never expected but highly aware of his calm gratitude for living here and now. It’s become a moment for me personally to expose my absolute open gratitude for every person in the theatre. I’ve never had such a moment before and I cherish it deeply every show. 

Is there anything you’re particularly excited to do off-stage in Melbourne?

I already did a bucket list item and saw Djokavic play at the Australian Open. What an absolutely legendary tennis player in an absolutely legendary arena. Next, I may see some Koalas and Kangaroos. I’m a simple tourist. 

Why must audiences come and catch Groundhog Day down under?

Tim Minchin’s incredible score, Danny Rubin's hilarious profound story, Mathew Warchus’s sublime direction, Rob Howells marvellous set, Lizzie Gee’s exuberant choreography, a cast of the most talented people Australia has to offer and GWB’s dedication to this amazing work of art. Also come see me have an existential performance that at some point in the show will hit me like a ton of bricks and internally freak me out while maintaining a meta-physical repetitive 4th dimensional tour de force. Basically, I’m just saying I know my lines and I love what I get to do.