Groundhog Day on Broadway

 “Welcome to Katz Reviews. This is Ed Katz of Katnip Marketing- marketing consultant by day, theater critic by night- with my weekly review segment, Katz Reviews, here for you on WICC 600.

Broadway announced their Tony Award nominations and I’ve been spotlighting the contenders for Best New Musical. Today I review ‘Groundhog Day.’

Based on the popular comedy film that starred Bill Murray, writer Danny Rubin adapted his award-winning screenplay and, in London last year, ‘Groundhog Day’ won several awards, including the Olivier Award for Best Musical- the West End’s equivalent of Broadway’s Tony Awards.

As you may have heard, lead actor Andy Karl was injured during a performance just before opening night and he was not in some performances seen by critics, myself included. So I can’t comment here on his award-nominated work. However Andrew Call, his understudy, is a Broadway veteran and did a terrific job in the role of Phil Connors- playing the part just right as the smug, narcissistic weatherman stuck repeating each day in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania.

Barrett Doss plays Rita, who is stuck having to accompany her disgruntled weatherman and produce their station’s live broadcast from the site where Punxsutawney Phil looks for his shadow.

And what starts as simply a funny, light comedy in Act One turns into a wise, winning existential adventure in Act Two that, as a bonus, still manages to be funny, as well.

The music and lyrics, by Tim Minchin- who also handled those duties for ‘Matilda’- feature several powerful numbers, some which are memorable, and the cast belts them out with style.

Inventively directed by Tony-winner Matthew Warchus, ‘Groundhog Day’ has many clever, theatrical tricks up its sleeve which all add to the fun but, at its core, it’s the story of how Phil learns that caring about others makes him a person worth caring about- even to himself.

Saying the story could be trimmed just a little and the choreography is nothing exciting are just minor quibbles in what is a thoroughly enjoyable, highly entertaining show and I give ‘Groundhog Day’ 4 stars out of 5. Its smart and it’s fun, too.

Next week, I’ll review a Broadway nominee for Best Play titled, ‘Indecent’ as well as Goodspeed’s revival of ‘Thoroughly Modern Millie.’ Stay tuned!

Catch my reviews right here and on my Facebook page and website, Katz Reviews dot com.

This is Ed Katz talking theater for WICC 600!”

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