Album Review: Groundhog Day the Musical

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Groundhog Day is the new Tim Minchin-scored Broadway musical starring Andy Karl and based on the Bill Murray film of the same name. After a try-out run at London’s Old Vic last summer, the show has just began its life in New York and has just released its original Broadway cast recording. So just to clarify I have not seen the original film nor the musical so I began listening to the album knowing only the premise of the material – and I’m kind of glad that was the case because I could come into it afresh! So in short, Tim Minchin has done it again (after the brilliance of Matilda the Musical) – the score is refreshing, clever and all of the things that makes Minchin one of my favourite composers. So instead of reviewing every song which would take forever, I’ve narrowed it down (with difficulty) to my current Top 5 favourite tracks, so hear goes…

5. “There Will Be Sun”
This is a great opening number. As short as it is, it’s beautiful, gentle and sets the tone for the show. And Minchin explore his natural ability to flex with tempos and the ensemble’s vocal harmonies are to die for – so soothing and pleasant to here; a great start!
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4. “If I Had My Time Again”
The only song to include the lyrics ‘I once masturbated seven times’ and oddly Andy Karl makes that sentence so great to hear musically. This is a great song that explores the two main characters motivations. Starting off tentatively it accumulates to a big ensemble number with a big ending, this feels like one of the big show-stoppers in the show and throughout it nothing feels musically forced like its trying to impress, it sounds so true to the characters and story, I love it!

3. “Seeing You”
Tissues at the ready for the closing number! Coming from someone who has only heard the song, not even seen it on-stage this song feels so emotional. Karl’s vocals and Minchin’s music/lyrics work in tandem perfectly for the show’s accumulative moments. 5:00 on-wards makes me imagine something very powerful happening on-stage (between the two romantic leads perhaps)- the big orchestrations and then that amazing shift back to subtlety. It all makes me even more excited to see it when it hopefully comes back to London!
Groundhog Day August Wilson Theatre

2. “Hope”
Well, what can I say about this one. First time I heard this was when Tim Minchin sang it on the 2017 Olivier Awards last month and I was overwhelmed! This feels as though the main character is at the end of his tether, and aren’t all great 11 O’Clock numbers that way?! It’s powerful, memorable and great to hear Andy Karl’s edgy powerhouse vocal ability in play again after Rocky.
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1. “Playing Nancy”
This is my favourite song in the whole show at the moment, but grab those tissues again! Minchin does female ballads so well (a la ‘Quiet’ from Matilda) and this is another great example. Every line is written (and beautifully sung from the first second by Rebecca Faulkenberry) with meaning and the important, empowering message of female perception. It’s my favourite song because more so than any of the others, it is a song that stands alone. You don’t need any other context because it tells a whole story – which every powerful song should do (one of the reasons I love composers such as Jason Robert Brown and Scott Alan as well) – songs you love to listen to and they tell stories; so as simple as it sounds, it means something. And “Playing Nancy” is all of that – it’s incredible!

Groundhog Day is directed by Matthew Warchus and currently playing Broadway’s August Wilson Theatre. An unconfirmed West End return is expected in 2018.

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