The Musical To See
By Marilyn Stasio, Contributing Writer @Variety
Danny Rubin scored a winner with his screenplay for the fondly remembered 1993 movie “Groundhog Day” starring Bill Murray as Phil Connors, an insufferable TV weatherman who only discovers his humanity after spending a lifetime re-living a single day in his sorry life. In the musical book Rubin adapted from his own screenplay, he softens the character’s repellent nature, while still leaving him room to learn how to be human.
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.
When Phil and his producer (and love interest) Rita Hanson (Barrett Doss) first arrive in Punxsutawney, they’re greeted by a parade of local characters, including some goofus in a groundhog suit, singing some dumb song about the inevitability of spring, whatever the groundhog predicts. As the show goes on, Tim Minchin’s lyrics turn out to be much cleverer than this introductory number would indicate.
Karl’s charismatic perf and Warchus’s inventive staging are in the service of a book by Danny Rubin, who wrote the original screenplay about how Phil is forced to relive Groundhog Day in Punxsutawney until he learns to care about other people.
Directed by Matthew Warchus. Choreographed by Peter Darling. Sets & costumes, Rob Howell; sound, Simon Baker; lighting, Hugh Vanstone; illusions, Paul Kieve; video, Andrzej Goulding; music supervision, orchestrations, and dance arrangements, Christopher Nightingale; production stage manager, David Lober.