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Theatre / Groundhog Day

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There's nothing more depressing than Small Town, U.S.A., and small don't come much smaller than Punxsutawney on Groundhog Day...

Who is that? Who is that emerging from his burrow?
Who can see today what we can't see until tomorrow?
Shaman of the shadows, springer of the spring
Is it a squirrel? Is it a beaver?
Kinda both, but not quite either!
That's right, woodchuck chuckers, it's Groundhog Day!
—The radio jingle that will wake Phil Connors every time he wakes up on February 2nd

The musical adaptation of Groundhog Day, which opened at the Old Vic Theatre in London in 2016 and then transferred to Broadway in 2017. With a book written by Danny Rubin (who penned the original film) and songs by Tim Minchin, the musical tells the familiar story of disgruntled weatherman Phil Connors trapped in a "Groundhog Day" Loop where he is forced to relive the titular holiday over and over until he learns to be a better person.

The show would receive an encore production at the Old Vic in May 2023, with Andy Karl reprising his role as Phil Connors.

The musical features examples of:

  • Adaptation Expansion: The original is already a full feature-length film, but the musical is significantly longer. It follows the same plot very closely but adds a bit of additional focus for underdeveloped characters and elements of the film.
  • All Musicals Are Adaptations: It's an adaptation of the 1993 film by the same name.
  • Binge Montage: "Philandering".
  • BSoD Song: "Day Three", as Phil realizes he's woken up on the same day for the third time, consists of a twisted, sinister variation of the music from "Day One" and "Day Two" set to a series of incoherent, increasingly distressed cries and exclamations from Phil, ending in "Help me!"
    • Also "Hope" in Act 2, where he keeps trying (and failing) to kill himself in order to break the loop. The final note turns into a scream of anguish.
  • Character Development: Phil's growth from a shallow, self-centered Jerkass to a decent human being is the main storyline.
  • Crowd Song: The residents of Punxsutawney sing the opening number, "There Will Be Sun", as well as the Punxsutawney/Groundhog Day song.
  • Cue the Sun: The last moments of the show are Phil and Rita watching the sun rise on February 3rd.
  • Dark Reprise:
    • "Day Three" makes the cheery Punxsutawney song and even Phil's parts from "Day One" sound a lot more twisted and sinister.
    • Early on, Ned Ryerson sings a short, cheerful jingle for his life insurance company: "Death will come to everyone, you gotta love life, you gotta love life, you gotta love life insurance!" Ned's song "Night Will Come" in the second act, after the revelation that Ned lost his wife, ends with a heartbreaking Dark Reprise of that jingle:
    As for that, the rest is just a test of your endurance,
    You gotta love life, you gotta love life, you gotta love life...
  • Death Song: "Hope" is a dark inspiration anthem sung by Phil as he repeatedly attempts suicide only to wake up back in his bed on Groundhog Day.
  • Driven to Suicide: Phil's descent into suicidal despair is given more attention than in the original film, with the song "Hope" devoted to his repeated suicide attempts.
  • Drunken Song: "Nobody Cares" has Phil go on a bender with the town drunks.
  • Duet of Differences: "If I Had My Time Again" features Phil singing about what he's been doing with his time in the "Groundhog Day" Loop, as a duet with Rita singing about what she would do if she could repeat her days. The contrast is something to behold:
    Rita: I always fancied learning how to climb
    Phil: I once masturbated seven times
    Rita: I'd study math
    Phil: In the bath
    Rita: And search for meaning
    Phil: In one evening
    Rita: And I'd run up hills
    Phil: It wasn't fun but still
    Rita: And learn to paint
    Phil: A man my age
    Rita: Just to know I can
    Phil: It's nice to know I can, it's nice to know I can
  • The Eleven O'Clock Number: "If I Had My Time Again" is the last major number before the finale, "Seeing You", and marks a turning point in Phil's Character Development, as he realizes how shallow his activities have been in comparison to how much good Rita would want to do with that time.
  • "Groundhog Day" Loop: The film is the Trope Namer.
  • The Hedonist: "Philandering" is dedicated to watching Phil indulge in this.
  • "I Am Becoming" Song: "Seeing You", which articulates Phil's character development.
    I swear that I knew every hair, each line upon your face
    I thought the only way to better days was through tomorrow
    But I know now that I know
    I know now that I know nothing
  • "I Am" Song: The first half of "Day One" establishes Phil's character and motivations as he spews his contempt for the town of Punxsutawney and everything in it and his plans to ensure he never has to wake up there again.
  • "I Want" Song: "One Day" serves as one for Rita, if a very cynical version. "Playing Nancy", the opener of the second act, gives an "I Want" Song to a bit character that Phil has a one-night stand with in the first act, where she wishes she could be more than a prop in someone else's story.
  • Irrelevant Act Opener: "Playing Nancy", the opening song of act two, is a Day in the Limelight for bit character Nancy and is unrelated to the plot.
  • Jerkass: Phil is a massive jerk at the start of the story, then gets better.
  • Karma Houdini: In "Nobody Cares", Phil comes to realize that reliving the same day over and over allows him to be this; he can do whatever he wants with absolutely no consequences, because he's the only one who'll remember any of it. No surprise that the next song, "Philandering", has him exploit this.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall: "Playing Nancy" is about Nancy feeling like she's playing the role of the attractive, vapid character in her life. This could just as easily be true about the actress of Nancy as well.
  • List Song: "If I Had My Time Again" lists things that Phil has done and things Rita would like to do if she could relive the past.
    • To a lesser extent, the beginning of "Small Town USA" (the first day), with Phil listing things he hates about Punxsutawney.
  • The Lost Lenore: Not for Phil - but it becomes clear that the reason Ned Ryerson has dedicated his life to selling life insurance is because he lost his wife.
  • Massive Multiplayer Ensemble Number: "One Day" has the Punxsutawney residents join in at the end.
  • Minor Character, Major Song: "Playing Nancy" and "Night Will Come" are two of the show's major solo ballads, and they're sung by Nancy and Ned respectively, characters who don't feature significantly in any other song.
  • Musical Gag: As composer Tim Minchin points out, he composed many songs with the knowledge that in traditional western music theory, there are 12 semitones per octave, corresponding symbolically with with the 12 hours Phil experiences per day. Since a full octave ends and starts in the same note simultaneously, Minchin composed "circular" melodies that begin as soon as they end and usually on dissonant, "unresolved" notes, much like the "Groundhog Day" Loop itself.
  • Musical World Hypotheses: The Punxsutawney/Groundhog Day songs are probably diegetic, as is "Punxsutawney Rock", but the musical is mostly an adaptation hypothesis example, with "montage" songs covering long stretches of time.
  • The Omniscient: Phil eventually becomes this after enough time in the loop, down to speaking in unison with townspeople. He comes to learn that knowing everything isn't all it's cracked up to be.
    • Subverted by the end of the show - Phil is still capable of being surprised by Rita's kiss, and admits that for all his knowledge he doesn't actually know anything, in contrast to his earlier sentiments.
  • Opening Chorus: "There Will Be Sun".
  • Patter Song: Rita's part of "One Day" is a long, cynical ramble about romance, which makes up for its relatively slow tempo with a lot of tongue twister language.
    And Id rather be alone if the only other option
    is succumb and settle down with some condescending clown
    with a great rating from some dating service,
    some self-professing Mr. Perfect,
    another narcissistic legend made a million out of hedge funds,
    another sexually ineffectual self-obsessing metrosexual
    pseudo-intellectual getting drunk and existential
    every time the Steelers lose a game
  • Punny Name: There are three songs where Phil takes advantage of the time loop to do something. They are, in order, "Philandering", "Philosopher", and "Philanthropy"
  • Race Lift: Rita and Larry are cast as Black.
  • Setting Introduction Song: The first half of "Day One" introduces the setting of Punxsutawney, both from the residents' point of view (And there is no town greater than Punxsutawney on Groundhog Day!) and from Phil's (There's nothing more depressing than Small Town, U.S.A., and small don't come much smaller than Punxsutawney on Groundhog Day).
  • Small Town Boredom: Phil is experiencing this already on his second day in Punxsutawney.
  • Snake Oil Salesman: Phil looks to a few of these in his desperation to fix whatever's happening to him in the song "Stuck". They include a man with a degree in holistic therapy who promises he can "analyze your isotopes and something something quantum quantum", a woman who believes he is allergic to gluten and needs an enema, a man with a Ph.D. in psychiatric pharmacology who specializes in mental illness... in cows, and a woman who fills her medicine cupboard with L. Ron Hubbard.
  • Subverted Rhyme Every Occasion: Ned's ballad "Night Will Come" ends with a Dark Reprise of the life insurance jingle ("You gotta love life, you gotta love life, you gotta love life insurance!"), which sets up the rhyme ("As for that, the rest is just a test of your endurance"), but trails off after the final "You gotta love life."
  • Triumphant Reprise: One part of dissonant chaos at the end of "Day 3" is the people of Punxsutawney chanting "Phil!" (referring to the groundhog). At the end of "Punxsutawney Rock" this can be heard again, although this time in celebration of our protagonist and his near folk-hero status in the town.
  • You Can't Fight Fate: In the staging for "Night Will Come, Phil repeatedly tries and fails to save an old homeless man from dying, finally realizing that, even with infinite tries, some things are just always gonna happen.