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Groundhog Day: The Musical, An Experience We're Happy To Repeat

2 February 2024 | 5:59 pm | Claire Dunton

Equal parts crude and delicate, Minchin’s ability to possess the characters and their small-town lives made the lyrics and performance a joy to watch in this inventive adaptation.

Groundhog Day: The Musical

Groundhog Day: The Musical (Supplied)

Last night, the Australian Premiere of Groundhog Day: The Musical lifted curtains at the Princess Theatre in Melbourne.

The musical, developed by Matthew Warchus and music and lyrics by Tim Minchin, is based on the 1993 film of the same name which follows city weatherman, Phil Conners, who is fated to cover ‘Groundhog Day’ in a small town in the USA for the last four years, only to find the assignment is indefinite.

British-born Australian musician and comedian, Tim Minchin has his fingerprints all over the hilarious and heartfelt musical numbers.

Equal parts crude and delicate, Minchin’s ability to possess the characters and their small-town lives made the lyrics and performance a joy to watch in this inventive adaptation.

Olivier Award-winning and Tony Award-nominated, Andy Karl, perfectly slips into the role of Phil Conners, adopting the arrogance and melancholy previously reserved only for Bill Murray himself. His role is balanced by the positive and quick-witted Rita (played by Elise McCann) who plays producer and love interest to Conners, with the music allowing the audience to learn more about her character, resulting in a satisfying ending when the two finally embrace tomorrow together.

Stuck is a hilarious song performed by Phil and a parade of health professionals trying to diagnose him, with relatable humour and current tropes peppered through the song bringing the 1993 film into the 21st century.

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Nobody Cares, is another funny performance by Phil who is quickly approaching rock bottom, with backing vocals by two bar locals resonating with living the same day over and over. Ultimately, If I Had My Time Again is the earworm that will leave with the audience, with the song performed more than once throughout the show, and has the makings of a classic hit that exists and thrives on and off the theatre stage.

The set designs were unbelievable in their detail and imagination, creating vividly realistic 19th-century scenes so economically with the space available.

Conners’ bedroom where he wakes time and time again on Groundhog Day anchors the pace of the show, with the ensuing marching band and Pom-Pom performance making this show so much more than a stage performance. At the show's end, the audience knows every detail of small town Punxsutawney and its Groundhog Day festivities, but in no way is the musical predictable, offering new morsels of detail, character development and musical hilarity in each version of Groundhog Day.

The show received a generous standing ovation with gold confetti released in the theatre, and fake snow blowing onto the street as the audience emptied.

The musical is relatively fresh off the back of its record-breaking season at London’s Old Vic. Minchin and Warhus worked together on Matilda, proving to be a formidable partnership with their imagination and tongue-in-cheek style enshrining them among musical theatre legends. Victorians are treated to an exclusive 13-week season with Minchin sure that Australian audiences will get a lot from the musical.

“Aussie audiences are responding especially to the humour as well as the heart in a way that honestly, it’s unparalleled,” Minchin said.

“It’s as complex and as sort of multifaceted as any musical. It’s just better than all other musicals,” Minchin laughs.

Purple Sneakers gives Groundhog Day The Musical five stars for its bold concept and fun execution. Tickets are still available for the 13-week run which finishes on March 3. Get tickets from Ticketek here.