GROUND HOG DAY
Book by Danny Rubin.
Music & Lyrics by Tim Minchin.
4 Stars ****
The Old Vic to 17 Sept
The Cut, London SE1 8NB
Mon – Sat 7.30 pm Mat Wed & Sat 2.30pm/
Runs 2hr 45 mins One interval.
TICKETS: 0844 871 7628
Review: William Russell 17 August
This day could last for ever. A really good GB musical.
At long last a really good British musical has arrived.
Tim Minchin’s words and music for this version of the much loved 1993 movie about the cynical weather forecaster who finds himself reliving the same day over and over again are about as good as it gets.
Phil Connors, the Pittsburg weather man, a self obsessed piece of work, is sent to cover Ground Hog day in Punxsutawney, a small hick town in Pennsylvania, as punishment. Jeff, the groundhog, has the gift of telling when winter will end and the locals hold a festival to celebrate the coming of spring. Connors, slumming it viciously, treats everyone, including the nice young producer he is given, like dirt.
Director Matthew Warchus has put life in l on stage in fine style. Maybe the show lacks the heart the film displayed and, good though he is, Andy Karl as Connors, is no Bill Murray when it comes to playing likeable. While he does nasty very well indeed, he brings no real depth to the role of a man who learns to live the good life, though he does have a lot of show business style.
As the producer, who resists his advances, Carlyss Peer is a delight although she is not the greatest singer in the show by any means.
But this is not a star vehicle, big though their roles are – the first rate ensemble is every bit as important and each and everyone rise to the occasion as the inhabitants of the town. The music – everything from jazz to blue grass – has been brilliantly orchestrated. The sets by Rob Howell, lots of revolves within revolves, things sliding on and off, and tiny houses add to the delights on offer. And here are some great illusions as Phil kills himself at one side of the stage and then wakes up in bed yet again on the other.
It is not perfect. Act Two does sag a bit, although an inspired tap dance routine for the entire cast rapidly jogs it back to life. Nor is it ever clear how Phil gets back to reality, other than that he starts doing good instead of bad, thus living the American dream It’s Wonderful Life style.
Warchus describes the show, which is on for a limited ten week run, as a kind of “test drive”– presumably prior to Broadway. It has passed the test with flying colours. This is a road trip that is going to last for a very long time, if not in this theatre, in theatres all over the place.
One day it will be a five star trip.
Phil Connors: Andy Karl.
Rita Hanson: Carlyss Peer.
Ensemble: Leo Andrew; David Birch; Ste Clough; Roger Dipper; Georgina Hagen; Kieran Jae; Julie Jupp; Andrew Langtree; Vicki Lee Taylor; Emma Lindars; Antonio Magro; Carolyn Maitland; Kirsty Malpass; Eugene McCoy; Jenny O’Leary; Mark Pollard; Jack Shalloo; Andrew Spillett; Lisa Mathieson; Leanne Pinder; Damien Poole; Spencer Stafford.
Director: Matthew Warchus.
Choreographer: Peter Darling.
Set & Costume Design: Rob Howell.
Orchestration, additional music & musical supervisor: Christopher Nightingale.
Lighting: Hugh Vanstone.
Sound Simon Baker.
Illusions: Paul Kieve.
Musical Director: Alan Berry.