Theatre Review - Groundhog Day

If you’re wondering whether this musical adaptation of Groundhog Day lives up to the 1993 film starring Bill Murray, on which it is based, the answer is a resounding yes. This award-winning production (first seen at the Old Vic in 2016) with book by Danny Rubin, music and lyrics by Tim Minchin and directedby Matthew Warchus  (the creatives behind Matilda the Musical) has its own magic to share.


It’s a comic morality tale which advocates love, humility and empathy. Andy Karl reprises his critically acclaimed role as Phil Connors, the cynical Pittsburgh TV weatheman reluctantly sent to cover Groundhog Day on 2 February, where a woodchuck annually predicts the weather, in the small town of Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania.


Desperate to get home he finds himself caught in a time loop, doomed to repeat the same 24-hours in Punxsutawney, to meet the same people, feel the same resentment… until he learns to becomes a better, kinder person, and falls in love with his long-suffering producer Rita (Tanisha Spring). Like Scrooge he is tested - multiple times - before he finds redemption.


Along the way there is much fun to be had as Phil endures various therapies to become unstuck, gets drunk with the locals,  and tries to seduce an attractive cheerleader, knowing he has numerous opportunities to get his patter right. He also tries to save the life of a homeless man and tries to end his own. The comedy and more sombre moments are deftly interwoven. Warchus’s skill as director and Karl’s comic timing ensure the repeated sequences always feel fresh.


It’s feel-good entertainment, imaginatively staged and slickly choreographed by Lizzi Gee. Minchin’s music reflects the changes in tempo of the story, his lyrics often echoing Phil’s mood, or conveying another characters’ feelings.


A show about second chances, on repeat. Joyous.


To August 19

Originally published by Westminster Extra