UPDATE with details of injury: A roar of cheers greeted Andy Karl from the moment he appeared onstage this evening at Broadway’s August Wilson Theatre, where Groundhog Day has just opened. It had been touch-and-go since Friday, when the star, playing the role created by Bill Murray in the hit 1993 comedy, was injured in the final moments of a critics’ preview of the musical. The knee injury prompted the cancellation of the Saturday matinee, and at that evening’s performance, the role of stuck-in-time weatherman Phil Connors was played by Karl’s understudy, Andrew Call, who plays insurance salesman Ned in the show. There was no performance scheduled for Sunday.
Tonight, Karl appeared game if slightly tender as Phil rose from under a comforter in his B&B room after the show’s opening number. A black brace was visible on his left knee as he pulled on his clothes in the wake of that iconic 6 AM clock radio wake-up. Once the crowd quieted down, Karl moved about the room and the show was fully underway. Karl later revealed on Instagram that he had a torn ACL, the major ligament in the knee. “Good news it can be managed with rest and physical therapy, which I’ve already begun,” he added.
Earlier this month, Karl won the Olivier Award – London’s version of the Tony Awards – for his performance in the original Old Vic production of the show, which was named best new musical. The producers had announced early Monday that Karl would appear for the opening. Tony Awards rules state that to be eligible for nomination, cast members must appear on opening night. They don’t specify whether an actor must perform the entire show.
The opening-night performance was a celebrity-packed affair with Maggie Gyllenhaal, Anna Wintour, Mariska Hargitay, Orfeh, Ben Stiller, Michael Ian Black, Bobby Moynihan, Tommy Mottola, David Hyde Pierce, Jesse Eisenberg, Regina Taylor, Lynn Nottage, Des McAnuff, Peter Gallagher and Hope Davis among those in the house.
Karl, who had finished the show Friday with the aid of a walking stick and his fellow cast members, was unassisted for the opening of tonight’s performance.