Groundhog Day is a musical comedy with music and lyrics by Tim Minchin, and a book by Danny Rubin. Based on the 1993 film of the same name written by Rubin and Harold Ramis, the musical made its world premiere at The Old Vic in London in 2016 and will transfer to the August Wilson Theatre on Broadway from 17 April 2017. The plot centres around Phil Connors, an arrogant Pittsburgh TV weatherman who, during an assignment covering the annual Groundhog Day event in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, finds himself in a time loop, repeating the same day again and again.
The musical is based on the 1993 film Groundhog Day. The film itself was produced on a budget of $14.6 million, earning over $70 million in domestic box office receipts. In 2006 it was added to the United States National Film Registry as being deemed “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant.” It was voted at number 8 in the top ten greatest films in the fantasy genre by the American Film Institute.
In August 2003, Stephen Sondheim, when asked what his next project might be, said that he was interested in the idea of a musical adaption of Groundhog Day. However, in a 2008 live chat, he said that “to make a musical of Groundhog Day would be to gild the lily. It cannot be improved.” In 2009, during an interview with MTV News, Harold Ramis revealed that Danny Rubin was working on the book for a musical version of the film. Rubin affirmed he had been working on a concept of a Groundhog Day musical for some time, and already had about 12 song ideas (weened down from 30) along with dialog, scenes, and other production aspects. Around 2012, Rubin had become stuck and felt it impossible he could make the musical happen as he believed he could not progress without the collaboration of a composer. Shortly after reaching this conclusion, Rubin was called by director Matthew Warchus to introduce him to lyricist Tim Minchin, who had just completed his composition for Matilda the Musical. Rubin felt Minchin’s work in Matilda proved he “can write songs that are funny and moving and smart and beautiful”, and the three started working on adapting Rubin’s book.
The trio formally announced their partnership towards the musical in January 2014. A workshop was held in London on 12 July, and Minchin performed a song from the show, “Seeing You”, during his concerts in KOKO, Hyde Park, the steps at Sydney Opera House.
On 2 April 2015, the musical was officially confirmed and it was announced that the show would receive its Broadway premiere in March 2017. It was later announced the musical would make its world premiere during 2016 at The Old Vic theatre in London, as part of director Matthew Warchus’ debut season as artistic director of the theatre.
The musical has a book by Danny Rubin, based on his and Harold Ramis’s original screenplay, and is directed by Matthew Warchus, with choreography by Peter Darling and design by Rob Howell. The show features an original score and lyrics by Australian comedian and lyricist Tim Minchin. The production reunites most of the creative team behind the 2010 musical Matilda.
Speaking about the musical, director Warchus said that it’s “a show full of intellect, integrity and wit, insight, humor—and of course romance.” Minchin, who wrote the music and lyrics for the adaption, added, “Our version of Groundhog Day is going to be both instantly recognisable, and utterly different” and that “The central conceit is perfectly suited to the theatre… it has the potential to be complex, dark, visually fascinating, and thematically rich, whilst still being a joyous romantic comedy with cool tunes and lots of gags.”
The show’s premiere production was scheduled to begin previews at the The Old Vic in London, on 11 July 2016, with its official opening night coming on 16 August, booking for a limited period until 17 September 2016, with an extra performance added on 19 September 2016. Initial previews were cancelled due to the technical complexities of the show, with the intention to restart on the 15th July. The first preview became an open final dress rehearsal with previews beginning instead on the 16th July. Tickets went on general sale on 12 April 2016, with priority booking from 10 March. In January 2016, it was announced that Andy Karl would play the lead role of Phil. Other notable casting for the show includes Carlyss Peer as Rita and Eugene McCoy as Larry. The running time for the London production at The Old Vic was 2 hours and 25 minutes (including an interval of 20 minutes).
After the opening night of the production at The Old Vic in London, The New York Times revealed that the production is still intended to transfer to Broadway, produced by André Ptaszynski and Lia Vollack with Whistle Pig and Columbia Live Stage.
The musical will premiere on Broadway at the August Wilson Theatre officially on 17 April 2017. On October 19 2016, it was announced that Andy Karl will reprise his role from the London production with tickets going on sale from 2 November 2016. Previews will begin 16 March 2017. The full cast was announced in December 2016, which included Barrett Doss as Rita.
The first scheduled preview on 16 March 2017, had to be stopped to technical difficulties with the revolving stage after approximately 15 minutes into the performance. However, the director Matthew Warchus decided that the performance would continue as a concert-style for the rest of act one, with a sing through of 6 songs after intermission using no technical components. The second preview on March 17 continued as planned.
The orchestration for the original London production consisted of 11 musicians;
The original Broadway cast album was recorded in March 2017 and will be released digitally on 15 April and in stores 5 May 2017. The album will be available from Broadway / Masterworks and is produced by Chris Nightingale, Michael Croiter and Tim Minchin.
The characters and original cast:
|Character||World premiereLondon production
The Old Vic, 2016
August Wilson Theatre, 2017
|Phil Connors||Andy Karl|
|Rita Hanson||Carlyss Peer||Barrett Doss|
|Larry (Ensemble)||Eugene McCoy||Vishal Vaidya|
|Ned Ryerson (Ensemble)||Andrew Langtree||John Sanders|
|Nancy Taylor (Ensemble)||Georgina Hagen||Rebecca Faulkenberry|
|Mrs Lancaster (Ensemble)||Julie Jupp||Heather Ayers|
|Freddie (Ensemble)||Kieran Jae||Gerard Canonico|
|Debbie (Ensemble)||Jenny O’Leary||Katy Geraghty|
|Joelle (Ensemble)||Carolyn Maitland||Jenna Rubaii|
|Ralph (Ensemble)||Jack Shalloo||Raymond J Lee|
|Gus (Ensemble)||Andrew Spillett||Andrew Call|
|Doris (Ensemble)||Emma Lindars||Rheaume Crenshaw|
|Buster (Ensemble)||Mark Pollard||Josh Lamon|
|Sheriff (Ensemble)||Antonio Magro||Sean Montgomery|
|Deputy (Ensemble)||Roger Dipper||Joseph Medeiros|
|Jeff (Ensemble)||Ste Clough||Travis Waldschmidt|
|Jenson (Ensemble)||Leo Andrew||William Parry|
|Chubby Man (Ensemble)||David Birch||Michael Fatica|
|Piano Teacher (Ensemble)||Kirsty Malpass||Tari Kelly|
|Lady Storm Chaser (Ensemble)||Vicki Lee Taylor||Taylor Iman Jones|
|Swing||Leanne Pinder||Camden Gonzales|
|Swing||Damien Poole||Jordan Grubb|
|Swing||Lisa Mathieson||Natalie Wisdom|
|Swing / Hot Dog Vendor (Ensemble) *||Matthew Malthouse||Kevin Bernard|
* Matthew Malthouse covered the role of the Hot Dog Vendor as part of his Swing track in the London production. The role has been renamed for the Broadway production, but according to cast members’ social media, Kevin Bernard is still considered part of the Swing Team for the production.
The Dance Captain and Assistant Dance Captain for the Old Vic production were Leanne Pinder and Damien Poole, respectively. For the Broadway Production, Camden Gonzales will be the Dance Captain while Michael Fatica will be the Assistant Dance Captain.
Three members of the original cast at the Old Vic have also appeared in Matilda. Matthew Malthouse played Rudolpho/the Escapologist in the world premiere cast at the RSC in December 2010 and reprised his role as the Escapologist in the original West End cast a year later, while Antonio Magro appeared in the West End production as Children’s Entertainer/Sergei, during which time he also understudied the principal role of Miss Trunchbull. Leanne Pinder was a swing in both the West End and Broadway productions (she also took on the roles of resident and assistant choreographer, respectively).
The original London production was received positively, opening to a string of five-star reviews.
|2016||Evening Standard Theatre Awards||Best Musical||Nominated|||
|Best Musical Performance||Andy Karl||Nominated|
|Best Design||Rob Howell (also for The Master Builder)||Nominated|
|BroadwayWorld UK / West End Awards||Theatrical Event of the Year||Won|||
|Best New Production of a Musical||Nominated|
|Best Actor in a New Production of a Musical||Andy Karl||Nominated|
|Best Actress in a New Production of a Musical||Carlyss Peer||Nominated|
|Best Supporting Actor in a New Production of a Musical||Andrew Langtree||Nominated|
|Best Supporting Actress in a New Production of a Musical||Georgina Hagen||Nominated|
|Best Direction of a New Production of a Musical||Matthew Warchus||Won|
|Best Choreography of a New Production of a Play or Musical||Peter Darling||Nominated|
|Best Lighting of a New Production of a Play or Musical||Hugh Vanstone||Won|
|Best Costume Design of a New Production of a Play or Musical||Rob Howell||Nominated|
|Best Set Design of a New Production of a Play of Musical||Won|
|2017||Critics Circle Theatre Awards||Best Musical (New or Revival)||Won|||
|Whatsonstage.com Awards||Best New Musical||Nominated|||
|Best Actor in a Musical||Andy Karl||Nominated|
|Best Director||Matthew Warchus||Nominated|
|Best Choreography||Peter Darling||Nominated|
|Best Set Design||Rob Howell||Nominated|
|Best Lighting Design||Hugh Vanstone||Nominated|
|Best Video Design||Andrzej Goulding||Nominated|
|Laurence Olivier Awards||Best New Musical||Pending|||
|Best Actor in a Musical||Andy Karl||Pending|
|Best Actor in a Supporting Role in a Musical||Andrew Langtree||Pending|
|Best Director||Matthew Warchus||Pending|
|Best Theatre Choreographer||Peter Darling & Ellen Kane||Pending|
|Best Costume Design||Rob Howell||Pending|
|Best Set Design||Pending|
|Best Lighting Design||Hugh Vanstone||Pending|