Tim Minchin has another massive hit on his hands according to West End critics who are heaping praise and five star reviews upon Groundhog Day. The musical, based on a classic 90s movie has just had its Press Night at the Old Vic Theatre and looks set to take the West End, Broadway and then the world by storm.
The show reunites Matilda composer/lyricist Tim Minchin and director Matthew Warchus and, once again, the critics are united in praise. The film starred Bill Murray as Phil Connors – portrayed here by hunky Broadway leading man Andy Karl – as an arrogant weatherman travelling somewhat reluctantly to Punxsutawney to report on their annual Groundhog Day ceremony. Soon, Connors finds himself living the same day over and over on loop.
Hitchings sung the praises of the creative team. “This adaptation has its own dizzying brand of joy, as well as elements of real darkness.”
Hitchings points out that Sondheim himself once considered adapting the story, so taken was he with the possibilities that the metaphysical time loop presented.
Mark Shenton called Groundhog Day “an absolute triumph” adding “I’m happy to say that Minchin and his collaborators have thrillingly made a show that stays in the same time and place for more than two and a half hours, yet has an inner momentum that never induces a sense of déjà vu.
Even a typically dour Michael Billington in The Guardian grudgingly gave the show four stars:
“The extra ingredient supplied by the musical is a dynamic theatricality… Paul Kieve adds to [that] theatricality with excellent illusions.”
Billington reserves his highest praise for the show’s leading man:
“If, however, one thought Bill Murray in the movie was an impossible act to follow, one reckoned without Broadway star Andy Karl who plays Phil. Karl exudes all the self-regard of the minor TV star and…endows the man with a sexual swagger.”
Ben Brantley, NY Times
Another notoriously hard-to-please US critic Ben Brantley, New York Times admitted “I grinned pretty much all the way through “Groundhog Day,” unexpectedly happy to be stuck with Phil in Punxsutawney (and please never make me spell that again).”
“Something extraordinary has happened at the Old Vic. A much-loved, ingeniously funny and clever Hollywood film has made a triumphant theatrical rebirth – …perhaps better than, the movie.” says Dominic Cavendish.
“Minchin uses repetition and sustained notes as a means of deepening the levels of irony, every dab of a refrain contributing to the mood, which includes funk, soul, rock ’n’ roll, bluegrass and Country and Western.” From the cast, he also highlights the portrayal of Rita (Andie MacDowell’s character in the film) as “a sensational Carlyss Peer”.
Bill Hagerty, The Sun
“The songs are witty, the sets colourful and pretty and the all-round talented cast is marshalled with great style and precision by director Matthew Warchus.”
“…it’s Andy, present in almost every scene, who makes the tale of redemption of a wisecracking heel irresistible.”
Matt Trueman, Variety
Matt Trueman for Variety says “Groundhog Day is a treat, one that wrings meaning and morality at every turn…This one will run. And run. And run.”
“Bolstered by Minchin’s music, Rubin’s book becomes far more than a simple Scrooge story…Phil’s tailspin from discombobulation to depression to give-a-damn nihilism is brilliantly done — Karl wheeling round like a new man each time…“Groundhog Day” pushes past its protagonist to see a bigger, fuller picture.”
BBC Online also have a round-up of reviews.
If you fancy yourself as a critic, you can read our own interview with Variety’s Matt Trueman here – or maybe you’d like to find our more about the Old Vic?
Don’t take the critics’ words for it – come see for yourself! You can buy tickets for Groundhog Day now, with the current run due to end on 17th September. We hope and would expect the show to look for a permanent West End home in the future, but with the current production Broadway Bound, nothing’s guaranteed. Don’t miss out on the chance to see Groundhog Day now in its original home and with its fabulous original cast!