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groundhog day the musical : worth seeing again, then again, and then again

When GROUNDHOG DAY was released in 1993, no one knew the cultural impact it would have. It grossed more than expected, won awards and showcased Bill Murray’s talents as a performer. The movie has been analysed and discussed repeatedly, by film, religious and philosophical scholars. It inspired other comedy films with fantasy-genre elements in particular time-loop based films like Happy Death Day and 50 First Dates. GROUNDHOG DAY, the title, entered the vernacular, becoming synonymous with being the repetitive daily grind.

GROUNDHOG DAY, like the film, tells the story of Phil Connors, a cynical, selfish and arrogant television weatherman. He has been sent on assignment to cover the annual Groundhog Day event in the small town of Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, an event he despises. Each year on 2 February, a large rodent emerges from his burrow to predict when winter will end. While covering Groundhog Day, Phil gets trapped into a time loop, waking up each day and reliving all the events and encounters experienced on Ground Hog Day.

This show has been created by Tim Minchin, his second stage musical based on a film, after the critically acclaimed musical Matilda. Danny Rubin who wrote the screenplay for the film version, wrote the stage version. 

The cast were simply brilliant from start to finish. Andy Karl shines as Phil Connors, the unlikeable weatherman, owning the stage at every turn, even to the point of overshadowing his co-stars. Although Bill Murray’s performance was in a class of its own, Andy delivers and it shows; he has played Phil Connors on stage since 2016 across every adaptation, from London, to New York, to now Melbourne, the only cast member to do so, collecting numerous awards and nominations along the way.

Elise McCann as Rita Hanson, Phil’s producer and eventual love interest was perfectly cast, having excellent on-stage chemistry with Andy and an incredible vocal range. Both Tim Wright as the insurance salesman Ned and Ashleigh Rubenach as Nancy, the local resident Phil flirts with, also gave strong performances. The remaining cast of this production, were impressive, especially maintaining the high energy while repeating the same lines, songs and dance numbers.  

The creative team did a great job of transitioning seamlessly between scenes and locations with very little distraction and utilising the stage with movable props and set pieces provided and cleverly recreating difficult scenes on stage such as a car chase or a hotel room.

Funny, warm, well directed and most enjoyable, GROUNDHOG DAY THE MUSICAL  is worth seeing, again, then again, and again. 

GROUNDHOG DAY THE MUSICAL is playing up until and including Sunday 20 April at The Princess Theatre, opposite Parliament Train Station. The show runs for 2 hours and 35 minutes, including a 20-minute intermission. This production is a Melbourne exclusive and won’t be travelling interstate.

The performance contains adult themes, sexual references, and coarse language. There are also references to self-harm and suicide. The show is suitable for mature audiences. This production also contains some loud theatrical sound effects and strobe lighting and smoke effects.  

To purchase tickets to Groundhog Day The Musical and learn more about the show, go to – groundhogday.com.au\

Production photography by Jeff Busby

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