Entertainment & Arts

Groundhog Day musical gets five-star reception

Andy Karl (Phil Connors) and Carlyss Peer (Rita Hanson) in Groundhog Day at The Old Vic Image copyright Manuel Harlan
Image caption Andy Karl (Phil Connors) and Carlyss Peer (Rita Hanson) in Groundhog Day

The new musical Groundhog Day has opened in London to a string of five-star reviews.

One critic hailed it as "an instant classic" while another called it "a cast-iron triumph".

The show, featuring songs by Tim Minchin, has been adapted for the stage by Danny Rubin, who co-wrote the 1993 film starring Bill Murray.

It tells the story of a grumpy TV weatherman who gets stuck in a time loop.

'Infinitely playful'

In his five-star review for The Telegraph, Dominic Cavendish wrote: "A much-loved, ingeniously funny and clever Hollywood film has made a triumphant theatrical rebirth - in a show that looks, on first viewing, equal to, and perhaps better than, the movie."

He added that Groundhog Day was "as funny and as touching as you could wish, and it lands with the confidence of an instant classic".

Mark Shenton's five-star review for The Stage described the show as "infinitely playful yet darkly serious".

He praised Minchin's "evocative and exhilarating" score adding that there were "plenty of cheeky Minchin jokes throughout".

It was, Shenton concluded, an "exhilarating new musical about life lived with the repeat button, which is itself worth watching more than once".

Image copyright Manuel Harlan
Image caption The musical is based on the 1993 hit film starring Bill Murray

In her five-star Whatsonstage.com review, Sarah Crompton called Groundhog Day "a cast-iron triumph, both joyful and profound, incredibly funny and seriously moving". Minchin, she opined, "might just be a genius".

Also giving five stars, in a review for The Times, Ann Treneman said the musical was "so much fun that it should be illegal."

And Henry Hitchings, awarding five stars in the Evening Standard, said: "This adaptation has its own dizzying brand of joy, as well as elements of real darkness."

Michael Billington, who gave four stars in The Guardian, said: "While the show is high-grade fun, I enjoyed it more for its dazzling theatrical expertise than for its much thinner emotional content."

The Mail's Quentin Letts said the show "needs more work, more heart and, most of all, a leading man who can match the quirky appeal Bill Murray brought to the film".

'Very complex'

Speaking after Tuesday's world premiere, Minchin said he hoped the musical would have a life beyond the Old Vic.

"The reason it's at the Old Vic and not a West End theatre is that we wanted to see if it was a piece of work of the scale that could go to the West End and Broadway," he told the BBC.

Director Matthew Warchus, who worked with Minchin on the award-winning Matilda, described Groundhog Day as an "unconventional musical".

"Sometimes people think when you turn a hit movie into a musical you are just trying to exploit it for financial gain, but from the moment we started, it was without cynicism because we believed in the worth of the story," he said.

He praised the cast and crew for their work on the "very complex" production.

"Each actor in the cast has an average of 20 costume changes - which has got to be some sort of record," he added.

Andy Karl, who plays weatherman Phil Connors, added: "The word of mouth has been great. I'm happy that people can enjoy it again - I'm hoping that we can do it across the pond, here and everywhere."

Groundhog Day is at the Old Vic until 17 September.

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