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Saturday, 03 June 2017 13:24

“Groundhog Day – The Musical” CD

Written by  Dennis Kucherawy
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Now available at Song & Script

Features Original Broadway Cast

Two-time 2017 Olivier Award-winner including “Best Musical”

Seven-time Tony Award nominee including “Best Musical”

 “Groundhog Day – The Musical” is a CD you’re going to want to have on repeat.

 

And that’s only appropriate for a show adapted from the hit Bill Murray comic movie of the same name.  That’s the hilarious one in which a self-absorbed weatherman (Phil Connors) is powerless to keep reliving the same day over and over again while covering the holiday in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania.  It’s kind of like performing the same live musical production eight times a week, isn’t it?

The creative team of “Matilda – The Musical” led by songwriter Tim Minchin and director Matthew Warchus have reunited.  Original screenwriter Danny Rubin joined them to expand the story.  Here, Connors is more than just an egotistic, obnoxious weatherman reporting on whether a prognosticating rodent will proclaim an early spring.  Rubin has added more plot to tell the story of a community living their lives habitually in repetitive cycles and looking for escape from their dull routines.

This adaptation has been hailed as “fiercely funny” and intelligent with a breakout star performance by Tony “Best Actor” nominee and Olivier-winner Andy Karl.

I haven’t seen the musical, but this recording is terrific.  The cast’s vocals are clear and the lyrics are understandable thereby preserving the show’s wit as adapters Minchin and Rubin straddle the story’s romance and Phil’s “existential crisis,” as it has been described.

Playbill magazine described Minchin’s score as “a jigsaw puzzle of musical genres.  In addition to the phases and changing sounds of Phil, the ensemble sings in styles of polka, samba, jazz – there’s even a brassy tap number and a funk mix.  Despite the different styles, Minchin unifies the score on a sonic level, restricting himself to specific chords and harmonic structures.”

For example, a heavy metal song (in the spirit of 1990s Seattle rock) called “Hope” in Act Two illustrates Phil’s many actually comical suicide attempts so memorable from the movie that Warchus and choreographer Peter Darling stage re-stage as a theatrical black comedy.

Minchin told Playbill he unlocked his approach through the sad ballad “Playing Nancy” at the top of Act Two.  In it, one of Phil’s one night stands sings how she considers herself as “a brief diversion, just the detour of the journey of some man…,” and her longing to be something more than “just collateral in someone else’s battle.”

That song, Minchin said, led to his concept of the show: “[Phil] goes through these musical phases as if he’s going through maturation as a human being.  The styles of music are meant to parallel his stages [of life] from solipsism through hedonism into self-loathing, and he learns all these lessons and eventually finds what we now call mindfulness.”

Indeed, the musical ends on a hopeful, romantic note with a lovely ballad about possible new beginnings between Phil and Rita Hanson, sung beautifully by Barrett Doss.  It’s titled “Seeing You.” It’s my favorite on the CD.

Track Listing:

1.                 Overture

2.                 There Will Be Sun

3.                 Day One

4.                 Day Two

5.                 Day Three

6.                 Stuck

7.                 Nobody Cares

8.                 Philandering

9.                 One Day

10.           Entr’acte

11.           Playing Nancy

12.           Hope

13.           Everything About You

14.           If I Had My Time Again

15.           Everything About You (Reprise)

16.           Night Will Come

17.           Philanthropy

18.           Punxsutawney Rock

19.           Seeing You

By Dennis Kucherawy

Last modified on Saturday, 03 June 2017 13:29
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