Two years after news of Australian comedian Tim Minchin’s Groundhog Day musical adaptation broke, the show opened on Broadway on April 17th, 2017. The show initially enjoyed a run in the London theater scene the previous year, but considering its source material’s American roots, its debut on native soil was inevitable. Groundhog Day star Bill Murray finally getting around to seeing the musical was also inevitable, and it finally happened at Tuesday night’s showing. New York Times reporter Sopan Deb was there to live-tweet the experience, which proved surprisingly emotional for the 66-year-old actor.
Murray was in typical form throughout the evening. Among other things, he gave a bartender a $50 tip for a bottle of water he thought cost “too much,” climbed over a woman sitting in a nearly empty row en route to the bar during intermission, and told an 11-year-old girl in crutches, “Don’t sell short on the rehab. Otherwise, you’ll limp and gimp for a long time.” He also spoke with the cast and crew backstage after the show, saying they “killed” him. “It was really beautiful. You got me. You really got me,” he said. “As actors, I can’t respect enough how disciplined you are and how serving you are of the process. There’s nothing worse than seeing someone that’s out for themselves. And you are all in it for each other.”
Sure enough, the Times noticed many of Murray’s varied emotional responses to the musical. He “pumped his fist” when his former character, Phil Connors (performed here by Andy Karl) met the annoying insurance salesman Ned Ryerson for the first time. Aside from this and many other visible utterances, however, Murray — who attended the show with his brother Brian Doyle-Murray and writer Danny Rubin — was also “visibly sobbing” by the end of it.
When asked for his thoughts on the show, as well as his reactions to the performance, Murray explained, “The idea that we just have to try again. We just have to try again. It’s such a beautiful, powerful idea.” He also said his late friend and collaborator, Groundhog Day director Harold Ramis, would have been “flabbergasted” by the musical adaptation. “Brian and I are flabbergasted,” he added. “It’s really something.” Murray and Ramis famously fell out with one another, though the former seemingly wiped it all away at the 2014 Academy Awards during an impromptu tribute to the comedy legend.
(Via the New York Times)