SECOND UPDATE, 7 AM: Today’s matinee of Groundhog Day has been canceled, and an understudy will perform the lead role at this evening’s performance, per a production spokeswoman:
This afternoon’s performance of Groundhog Day has been canceled. The production’s lead, Andy Karl, injured himself at the Friday night performance of the new musical and is unable to perform at today’s matinee. Andrew Call will play the role of Phil Connors at today’s 8PM performance. Refunds and exchanges at point of purchase. The production is currently scheduled to open on Monday. Further information about the performance schedule will follow.
First update Saturday morning: Soon after being checked out at the hospital, Karl posted this on Instagram:
EARLIER: Andy Karl, the Olivier Award-winning star of Groundhog Day The Musical, was injured Friday night near the end of a critics’ preview of the show, bringing the curtain down at 10:20 P.M. during one of the final numbers after the cast was told to clear the stage. Following a brief delay, a stage manager called for a doctor in the house, and after that told the audience that the show would resume shortly. When the curtain rose at about 10:45, the star, moving haltingly with the assist of a tall improvised walking stick and his game co-stars, was greeted with cheers from a relieved and enthusiastic audience. There was laughter and more cheering when he sang, “But I’m here and I’m fine.”
At the curtain call several minutes later, Karl, playing the role originated by Bill Murray in the 1993 film, nodded his appreciation during a standing ovation, his cheeks streaked with tears and his expression connoting some combination of pain and adrenaline rush for having troupered through to the end.
“In the second act of Groundhog Day, during the song ‘Philanthropy,’ Andy Karl injured himself during the performance and left the stage,” Adrian Bryan-Brown, a spokesman for the show, told Deadline. “The show was stopped. Andy insisted on finishing the show and after a 15 minute break went on stage with a cane. Following the performance Andy was taken to see a doctor.”
Groundhog Day, which won the Olivier Award for best musical, as well as the best actor award for Karl, is slated to open April 17 at the August Wilson Theatre.
The scene in which Karl was injured saw the entire company onstage performing a fast-paced dance number that had his character, TV weatherman Phil Connors, interacting with the people of Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania. At a key moment, he apparently was positioning himself to catch a dancer who appeared to be falling from a ladder down stage left. From my vantage point in Row H opposite this action, I could see Karl slump to the floor and scuttle offstage. It was unclear in the moment whether it was an accident or stage business, until the stage was emptied and the curtain fell.
The show, directed by Matthew Warchus and choreographed by Peter Darling, was halted during an early preview when a revolve on the stage failed, though there were no injuries. At the time, the cast continued the show as a concert performance.
This evening, Karl’s wife, the singer-songwriter Orfeh, tweeted this about the incident:
Karl has proven himself a show-must-go-on traditionalist under other trying circumstances: In 2014, he played Rocky Balboa in Rocky Broadway, an expensive flop that nonetheless brought him accolades in a role that had him singing his heart out while pounding slabs of beef. As during tonight’s performance, the audience was with him all the way.