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Review: GROUNDHOG DAY at Paramount Theater, Aurora IL

The production runs now through March 13

Review: GROUNDHOG DAY at Paramount Theater, Aurora IL

Paramount's Groundhog Day is more than a repetitive day!

The current production of Groundhog Day at the Paramount Theater in Aurora, IL (under the direction of Jim Corti) is not the movie - and that's not being negative at all! All the familiar elements are evident in this well staged and directed musical. When we first meet Phil Connors (the talented and mesmerizing Alex Syiek in his Chicago debut), we think we know him. What happens over the occurring date of February 2 shows us his many different sides and we are taken into his psyche. Warning - this show is not for children as it becomes dark. The audience meets (over and over) the citizens of Punxsutawney and they are portrayed as loveable citizens. When producer Rita Hanson first appears (Phoebe Gonzalez shines) we realize she is no-nonsense and won't take any bull from anyone.

As Act One winds down, Phil sees experts who really don't know what they are talking about. He then ends up in a bar drinking with Gus and Ralph (the comedic and vocal talents of Aaron Conklin and Michael E. Martin). During a drunken discussion about today happening tomorrow and there is no yesterday (good luck following that conversation), Phil realizes he can do whatever he wants without any repercussion.

This begins his transformation into a very unlikeable person. When Phil realizes what is happening to him, he then contemplates suicide. After another repetitive day, he tries to have meaningful conversations with Rita. It finally becomes evident to Phil he has a chance to redeem himself. He begins in earnest to do good deeds for the citizens and his TV traveling companions. Phil finally becomes happy with himself which is the key to moving forward. When Phil wakes up on February 3, he cannot believe Rita is still there. Phil mentions early on that he will never see another sunrise. As he looks out the window, he tells Rita they need to get outside. They sit on a bench and watch the new sunrise.

The story arc is enhanced by the "snowglobe" design of the set by Courtney O'Neill. Tim Minchin's music (under the direction of Kory Danielson) along with choreography by Megan E. Farley had all the components needed to continue to tell the story over and over.

I believe over the past 2 years we have all felt a bit like we were living through Groundhog Day. An evening of laughter, song and dance is the right track to mend.




From This Author - Tina St. Angelo Wetzel

I live in Naperville IL, a Chicago suburb. Theater and the arts is a passion.  I have been to almost every theater venue in Chicago and the regional theaters including Drury Lane Oakbrook, Mar... (read more about this author)


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