From Tim Minchin, the Composer of “Matilda the Musical”
Less than three months after Matilda the Musical wrapped up its impressive 4-year run on Broadway, its composer has a new show in town. Tim Minchin, who wrote the music and lyrics for Matilda, has done the same for Groundhog Day: the Musical, a new show with a book by Danny Rubin that began previews on Broadway on March 16, 2017. The musical, which is based on the 1993 film of the same name, is scheduled to have its official opening night on April 17, 2017. Groundhog Day is the story of a man named Phil Connors, an arrogant television weatherman in Pittsburgh who wakes up one day to discover that it’s actually yesterday, and then this same exact repeated day recurs over and over in a time loop, until Connors can learn to care about other people and better his own and others’ lives in the process. The film, which starred Bill Murray in a memorable role, was released in 1993 to great acclaim, and currently holds a 96% certified fresh rating on the movie ratings site Rotten Tomatoes. The musical has been in development since no later than 2009, when the bookwriter Danny Rubin announced in an MTV News interview that he was working on the concept. Around 2012, the British director Matthew Warchus introduced Rubin to Tim Minchin, who had just proved his chops by completing his funny, moving, smart, and beautiful songs for Matilda.
With a British creative team, even though the Groundhog Day story was set in America and based off an American film, the decision was made to premiere the production in London at the Old Vic Theatre. The first preview was originally scheduled for July 11, 2016, but due to technical difficulties, the first few performances were cancelled and the first preview was rescheduled for July 15, 2016. However, yet again, the Groundhog Day show was not ready, and that performance was held as an open dress rehearsal, with the official first preview the following day. At that point, the show was scheduled to transfer to Broadway shortly after the London tryout, with performances beginning on January 23, 2017. However, at that time, the powerhouse producer for Groundhog Day, Scott Rudin withdrew from the production, and there was yet another delay. The show found a new lead producer in Whistle Pig, Columbia Stage Live, the Dodgers, and Michael Watt, and scheduled its first preview to begin this past week. As if the production were cursed, the Broadway production also had a false start. While the first preview was scheduled for March 16, 2017, a turntable malfunction in Act I caused the rest of the show to be performed as a concert. In response, the producers released a good-humored statement that in line with the show’s subject matter, the musical will need a do-over. The audience at that first preview had received free tickets as part of a promotion, and they were treated to free drinks as well as tickets to a later performance due to the technical issue.
A Talented Cast and Creative Team
Starring Andy Karl (On the Twentieth Century, Rocky, The Mystery of Edwin Drood) in the lead role, the cast also includes Barrett Doss, Heather Ayers, Kevin Bernard, Andrew Call, Gerard Canonico, and Rheaume Crenshaw. Matthew Warchus, the director, has worked extensively in Britain, and his Broadway credits also include Matilda the Musical, Ghost the Musical, La Bête, the trilogy of The Norman Conquests, God of Carnage, Boeing Boeing, and others, all of which originated in London before finding their way to New York. While the show has certainly experienced its share of technical difficulties, it is now up and running, and if the London reviews are any indication, this show may find a warm reception upon its opening night next month.
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