It didn’t take long to find the next tenant of the August Wilson Theatre, where Jersey Boys will close January 15. Groundhog Day, which opened recently at London’s Old Vic to laudatory reviews, will begin performances at the Jujamcyn Theatres house in March with an official opening set for April 17. Translation: Producers Matthew Warchus (who also directs), André Ptaszynski for Whistle Pig, and Lia Vollack for Columbia Live Stage, have moved quickly to take advantage of the show’s momentum, bringing it to Gotham in time for this season’s Tony Awards nominations.
The show — which reunites Warchus with his Matilda collaborators Tim Minchin (music and lyrics), Peter Darling (choreography) and Rob Howell (sets and costumes) — is based on the 1993 film starring Bill Murray as cranky weatherman Phil Connors and Andie MacDowell as his love interest Rita. The book is by Danny Rubin, who co-wrote the screenplay with director Harold Ramis.
Casting has not been announced, so the big question is: Will Andy Karl, who plays Phil, get a second shot at Broadway stardom? Karl played the title role in the much-abused Rocky — The Musical, though it looks like that show’s failure isn’t getting in the way.
“Groundhog Day seems guaranteed to have the skeptics waving (and using) white handkerchiefs long before its final curtain, while transforming Mr. Karl into the top-of-the-heap musical star he has long deserved to be,” Ben Brantley wrote in the New York Times. “This bright whirligig of a show is a shrewd juggler of contradictions.”