- OnStage Founder & Editor-in-Chief
Sitting over dinner with theatre friends from all over New York last week, we did what we always do, rant and rave about musical theatre. We love to talk about people we've talked to, auditions, fellow performers and of course, shows we've seen.
The big topic of our dinner was what was our favorite musical of the year. For one it was Dear Evan Hansen, for another it was Natasha, Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812. One, who was lucky enough to get tickets, and blurted out Hello Dolly!
Then it was my turn. After a pause, I said "Groundhog Day..."
Cue raised eyebrows, cocked heads followed by a chorus of "Really?!?!", "Seriously?!?!?" and timeless classic, "What are you talking about?!?!"
I don't know why I come to these dinners....
But in all seriousness, I'm going to tell you exactly what I told them. If you love musical theatre, you'll have a great time at Groundhog Day.
Yes, Dear Evan Hansen is an inspirational love letter, Natasha, Pierre... is showcasing new and exciting ways to stage and score musical theatre. Hello Dolly! stars a music and cultural icon in a popular chestnut. But Groundhog Day? It's pure musical theatre entertainment with inventive staging, slick choreography, a score that keeps you thinking, starring Broadway's newest master showman.
Surprised? Don't worry, I was too.
When I saw it last week, I had no idea what I was walking into other than that I was a huge fan of the movie and looking forward to Tim Minchin's follow up to Matilda.
What I got was two hours of smiling, laughing, cheering, a tear or two and a lot of goose bumps.
Also more than a couple of cringes watching Andy Karl(whose knee is recovering from a gnarly injury before opening night) bounding and bending all over the place. Seriously, whatever he's on, I want some for my aches and pains.
But leaving the theatre, confirmed that I had a great time, I tried to digest why. Why did I like this musical so much?
Was it that Matthew Warchus, with his slight-of-hand staging, once again proved he's one of the best theatre directors today?
Was it Peter Darling's slick and stylish choreography? Especially with "Chubby Man" Michael Fatica leading a ridiculously good tap number?
Was it that I couldn't stop laughing throughout "Stuck"? Or shed a tear during the chill inducing ensemble vocals of "There Will Be Sun"?
Is it that I'm still debating with myself if "Playing Nancy" is incredibly insightful or incredibly unnecessary?
Was it that I just watched Andy Karl finally become the leading man he deserves to be?
Truthfully, it's probably all of the above. Go see it, you might have the same questions after too.
I'm not saying Groundhog Day is "better" than any of the other musicals this year. I'm saying that if you're in a situation like I was, don't hesitate to state that Groundhog Day was the most fun you've had in a Broadway theatre in 2017. You would be far from wrong and definitely not alone.