So I know this is a food blog, but I also happen to watch as many musicals and plays as I can and using the hashtag #AnanteaterTheater was too good of an opportunity to pass up.
MUSICAL: Groundhog Day
WHERE: August Wilson Theatre on Broadway (Closed on September 17th – but going on an 18-month US Tour in 2018)
THE DETAILS: I have had the opportunity to see quite a few Broadway Musicals and I have to say this show is definitely in my Top Five Favorite Musicals of All-Time list.
Based on the classic Bill Murray movie of the same name on the events of February 2nd every year in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, Groundhog Day takes you through the day of Weatherman Phil Connors over and over and over again till he gets it right.
This musical will make you laugh and make you cry, taking you on a roller coaster of emotions that you expect from every great musical.
One of the most impressive parts of the musical is the use of technology and special effects. Most of the choreography is based on a multi-circle rotating platform in the center of the stage which allows seamless transitions from set to set. During the song “Hope” was one of the most impressive special effects I had ever seen on a stage. It was almost like magic how the main character Phil, who (spoiler?) is starting to get depressed living the same day over and over again and is waking up again in the same spot in his bed no matter how many times he commits suicide, literally would “kill himself” in one part of the stage and somehow, a second later, wake up in his bed in the middle of the stage. The choreography does such an artful job of keeping your eyes focused on certain aspects that it’s like you are watching a Hollywood movie and Phil is literally teleporting around the stage. Likewise, the song “Nobody Cares” had by far the most creative and funniest car-chase-scene I have ever seen on a stage. The creativity is off the charts.
Of course, I can’t talk about a musical without talking about the music. It’s a wonderful blend of Rock and Pop and classic Jazz and Broadway tunes all in one. The beginning “Overture” starts off with a tune you’re just going to wish kept going on and on. The harmonies are some of the best I’ve heard on Broadway and the lyrics, such as in the hilariously catchy song “Stuck” or (my favorite) “If I Had My Time Again”, are absolutely brilliant. For those who don’t listen to Broadway music often, I would say this soundtrack does such a great job of combining genres that it is a great first soundtrack to listen to if you want to get into listening to Broadway music.
Another great thing about this cast is how diverse it is. Broadway has a reputation for being very white, and it would have been easy for the show to mirror the cast of the original movie, but they chose not to do that. This article goes into much more detail on the show’s diversity, but in summary, the cast consists of a female-lead-of-color, an Indian actor, and Asian actor, and fuller figured performers.
Speaking of the cast, they are all incredibly nice. Most of them came out to the Stage Door after the show to greet fans waiting for them – I don’t think I have ever gotten as many signatures at a stage door. They were all super friendly and I had a great short conversation with Vishal Vaidya about how he had once performed with the Hulabahoos, an a capella group at my University. I had a great conversation with lead Andy Karl about his hysterical interview on Side by Side with Susan Blackwell and lead Barrett Doss was incredibly grateful to meet all of us (making sure she got to spend some time with each and every person who was waiting). I witnessed several members of the cast being incredibly kind and patient in their conversations with some younger fans who were a bit shy to talk with them – speaks a lot to their great character. By far one of my more memorable “Stage Dooring” experiences.
It’s unfortunate that this show ended its Broadway run so soon, especially before its first show on Groundhog Day. I feel like they didn’t really perform their most appealing/mainstream songs at the Tony Awards and in their Good Morning America performance, which were missed marketing opportunities in my eyes. It’s a shame, because I think this is a show that really will appeal to all audiences and has a real powerful lesson to teach.
But overall, the cast is incredibly talented, the story is emotional, the lessons learned are powerful, and the music provides some of the best harmonies on Broadway today. I definitely recommend watching this musical if you ever get a chance in London or on its tour – over and over and over again!
Best part is – I bought a shirt that I’m pretty much going to be wearing every February 2nd for the rest of my life.
The album is available on Spotify – definitely give it a listen!