Groundhog Day at The Old Vic
Groundhog Day is a musical based on the 1993 film of the same name. Following rave reviews in London in 2016 and a Broadway run in 2017 this musical has returned to the Old Vic and I decided to see what all the fuss was about.
The show follows Phil Connors, an arrogant TV weatherman who is sent to small town Punxsutawney to cover Groundhog Day, but Phil finds himself in an endless loop of the same day until he learns that he has to improve himself in order to get out of the ongoing cycle. The story is a fun, if not slightly cliche, one and if you are a fan of the film you know that there will also be the nostalgia factor for you, especially as the screenwriter of the film Danny Rubin has written the book for the musical. The show is also staged very cleverly and the pace is kept up, when you start to worry as an audience member that you aren’t sure you can face another repeat of the same day the format is changed up. A highlight of the show was the clever staging in which the audience saw Phil Connors try to end the cycle in multiple ways but always end up back in bed the following morning. There are also wonderful touch’s such as an inventive car chase and similar quirky moments which show the attention to detail that has gone into this show.
The songs by Tim Minchin are great in context of the show however I now struggle to remember many of the melodies but despite that they all serve the show well. There is also a great variety in them, numerous funny numbers to ensure that the show is lighthearted but equally some more serious moments to avoid the show being pure froth. Equally they are very varied stylistically with a huge musical theatre range within the one show.
There is a brilliant number within the show called ‘Playing Nancy’ which was sung by Eve Norris who played (unsurprisingly) Nancy. The song stops the show in its tracks as Norris sings about how it feels to always be cast as the ‘hot one.’ It is a bizarre moment but one that I adored for this very reason.
The show is packed full of an incredible cast. Andy Karl reprises his Olivier award winning role as Phil Connors and it is easy to see why he scooped the win. He manages to get the audience on side whilst playing (at least initially) a distinctly unlikeable character. Tanisha Spring plays Rita, the assistant producer of the show that day as well and she was incredibly warm on stage and delivers some of the most moving moments of the show such as ‘If I Have My Time Again.’ The ensemble was also incredibly strong with each person getting a moment to shine in their individual role. This also really helped create the small town feel that everyone knew everyone, from the deputy to the piano teacher.
The set is also very well thought out, the miniature city in the background adds wonderful depth to it and the small room that Phil wakes up in every day clearly plays in the small town vibe. The pre-set that the audience walk into is also an impressive sight with weather maps filling the stage and a clock that seems to go nowhere at the interval.
Groundhog Day is a well staged, innovative, charming show that gives the audience a warm glow leaving the theatre. Is it enjoyable? Yes. Will it leave a lasting impression? No.
Groundhog Day is on at the Old Vic until 19th August. To find out more and book tickets visit their website here.