Friday, March 24, 2023
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Groundhog Day the musical starring the very talented and injured but unsinkable Andy Karl

Oscar E. Moore “from the rear mezzanine” for Talk

Knee brace comes to the rescue. Andy Karl brave heart that he is should be awarded a medal for performing above and beyond the call of duty despite a torn ligament in his left knee. Making lemonade out of this lemon of an injury does have its advantages. For knee braces. Andy Karl single-handed will make them sexy and fashionable and the producers might want to add them to their souvenir stand. Mr. Karl even creates an almost show stopping laugh while displaying it to his costar while making a suggestive invite wearing boxer shorts and a fur coat…

Only one of the many highlights in this delightful, imaginative and wacky fantasy with a heart of gold that is running on all cylinders at the August Wilson Theatre with a nifty score by Tim Minchin and book by Danny Rubin based on the cult 1993 movie classic GROUNDHOG DAY.

With a gracious nod to Frank Capra’s “It’s a Wonderful Life.”

It is one surprise after another. Phil Connors (Andy Karl) is the egotistical, sarcastic and smarmy weatherman reporting on the moronic tradition of celebrating Groundhog Day in Punxsutawney Pennsylvania on February 2nd. Ironically enough the groundhog’s name is also Phil.

Somehow this reporter’s fate is sealed when he has to relive the day over and over again. This might prove monotonous but the creative team under the brilliant direction of Matthew Warchus sees to it that subtle variations with wildly imaginative staging takes you on a whirlwind journey with laughs aplenty and a pull out all the stops performance of Andy Karl. With the sexy and therapeutic aforementioned knee brace.

He also meets his match with his co-star Rita (Barrett Doss) the TV producer of the newscast of weatherman Phil Connors who has to put up with his superior attitude while skirt chasing not only her but anyone that will say “Yes.” She meets his challenge song for song. Laugh for laugh. Tenderness for tenderness.

Phil is smart and he cleverly makes the dull routine of reliving this day by adapting his knowledge of what is going to happen and he in turn has a change of attitude and heart which is endearing.

Helped by an old school chum turned insurance salesman, Ned Ryerson (John Sanders) who gets to sing a beautiful “Night Will Come.”

There is a hoot of a scene in a bar with two townsfolk Gus (Andrew Call who is Andy’s understudy) and Ralph (Raymond J. Lee) that segues into a pickup truck being assembled around them resulting in one of the most manic and Mack Sennett inspired car chases in miniature. You will love it.

The sets are a fantastic technological wonder designed by Rob Howell who also designed the colorful costumes. Peter Darling has choreographed with the same amount of energy and imagination. Head scratching illusions are by Paul Kieve. The sound design by Simon Baker is excellent. You can hear every clever and sometimes gross dick head albeit funny lyric of which you will be grateful.

It’s a wonderful production. I loved it! This is for you Ariel. Highly recommended.

Photo: Joan Marcus