Musicals: The new shows winning the crowds over

Not all musicals are the same — a clutch of new stage shows are converting cynics across the globe.

By Glen Mutel
Published 6 Nov 2016, 08:00 GMT, Updated 7 Jul 2021, 17:36 BST
Andy Karl and Carlyss Peer in Groundhog Day

Andy Karl and Carlyss Peer in Groundhog Day.

Photograph by Manuel Harlan

Most of us know where we stand on musicals — you either find them exhilarating and life-affirming or you recoil at the thought of plot being developed through song.

But once in a while a production comes along that manages to appeal to even those cynics who consider themselves immune. These cut-through shows often harness the credibility of something outside of the genre: with The Producers, it was the cult film of the same name; with The Book of Mormon it was the South Park connection; and with Hamilton, it was hip-hop.

Groundhog Day — which just finished a 10-week run at the Old Vic theatre in London — piggybacks on the enduring popularity of Bill Murray, star of the 1993 film.

With its emphasis on repetition — our hero, Phil Connors (the Murray character played by Andy Karl) is condemned to relive the same day over and over again — Groundhog Day isn't an obvious film to bring to the stage. But the London run could hardly have been more successful, with critics won over by the imaginative production, its breathless set-changes and the songs of Tim Minchin.

The show will now attempt to wow critics on Broadway, as it's set to open in New York's August Wilson Theatre on 17 April 2017. Musical refuseniks, take note.

Musicals on the move

London: Hamilton
The smash hit hip-hop history opens at the Victoria Palace Theatre in October 2017. Tickets on sale in November.

Toronto: Matilda
A Roald Dahl story with Tim Minchin songs, Matilda is a transatlantic hit, now at Toronto's Ed Mirvish Theatre.

Melbourne: The Book of Mormon
Outrageous comedy from the creators of South Park opens in January at the Princess Theatre.

Published in the November 2016 issue of National Geographic Traveller (UK)

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