WORTH A LOOK?: ****
WHERE: Old Vic
WHEN: 1st preview 15/7, press night 16/8, runs to 17/9
24 hours before we are due to attend this 1st preview we receive an email from the venue saying the show’s not quite ready, designating it the final dress rehearsal, offering us full refunds and saying our tickets are still valid.
- Read on for details of this production’s Broadway run
Fast forward 24 hours and it’s a real PR coup and the ultimate feel good Friday night. monstagigz is an Old Vic member and we’ve already decided we’re putting our £120 refund in our account to spend on future shows at this, one of our favourite venues.
Groundhog Day director/Old Vic artistic director Matthew Warchus takes to the stage beforehand to explain whats happening with author Danny Rubin and composer Tim Minchin to ask the audience not to spoil the show’s surprises for others on social media.
It’s a very 2016 request and especially odd given the musical remains faithful to the 90s film starring Bill Murray. We’d never risk spoilers that would ruin things for you, dear reader, and, in fact, exist to give you the heads-up early on things worth seeing, which this very much is.
For the uninitiated it’s the story of unlovable TV weatherman Phil Connors (Andy Karl, excellent) who travels to small American town Punxsutawney with his producer (Carlyss Peer, the best reason to see the show) to report the 2 February tradition where a groundhog predicts the arrival of spring. He gets caught in a repeating day where only he is aware that he is stuck in an eternal loop.
Especially good is the revolving stage and sight gags involving luminous cars/houses and Karl disappearing and reappearing quickly in unexpected places.
The score is far more varied than Matilda (the last big Warchus/Minchin hit) and for us standout number If I Had My Time Again was marred because we couldn’t quite hear how rude Karl was being. If you’re looking for comparisons we’d say this has the potential to be as big as Legally Blonde, another hit musical to spring much later from a successful movie.
What perhaps gives Groundhog Day the edge is that it has so much heart and such a social conscience that it gave us massive It’s A Wonderful Life chills.
At the end Warchus takes to the stage and thanks the audience for its prolonged standing ovation and urges us to pay to see the show. This was the first time it had run successfully all the way through.
We’ll definitely return later in the run because, as with all musicals, it’s a show that will find its feet much later than this 1st preview.
In fact, it’s already been confirmed that this production is to open on Broadway in March with its first previews in January.
Four stars then, for now. But it’s an absolute cracker of a show and we expect that when we pay it a return visit it will be worth the full five stars.
- Picture via Facebook courtesy Old Vic. Tickets here
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