(Seen at the afternoon performance on 20th August 2016)
For the monkey, the best musicals are those that have the strongest book,
then lyric then music. "Groundhog Day" holds firm to this pattern. Not a dull or
slow second once the story has been "set up" and plays again, and again, and
again... There's some outstanding lyrics, particularly Nancy (Georgina Hagan's)
act two opener about society forcing her to play the role they assign rather
than her own, and several amusing lines throughout. Also some spectacularly good
or simply hugely inventive set-pieces and illusions (no spoilers), and a cast
who ooze "small town good" (Andrew Langtree as Ned Ryerson is a standout, as are
the band and diner staff).
Leads Andy Karl (Phil) and Carlyss Peer (Rita) (both pictured) are outstanding, Karl on-stage
most of the show and working overtime keeping his life motoring, Peer making
much of a pretty small role with songs more incidental than plot-driving.
The difficulty is with the music. The monkey wonders if the orchestrations
may be the issue, in that the melodies don't really "land" in the memory. While
it could admire and even quote the odd line of lyric, it couldn't really recall
a tune. Actually, a little of the lyric was unnecessarily scatological, but it
can almost let that pass thanks to some fine word-craft elsewhere.
No matter, this is engaging, beautifully staged and a fast and fun show,
which hopefully will have a decently long life ahead of it.
Go see, if you can still get a ticket.