“Groundhog Day” leading man Andy Karl is the talk of Broadway as the living proof of that old showbiz adage that the show must go on. On Good Friday (April 14), he twisted his knee during the song and dance showstopper “Philanthropy,” one of the highlights of the second act of this tuner. After he finished that number, the curtain came down and the house lights went up as a call for a doctor went out. Karl, a stage vet, finished out the performance with the aid of a hastily acquired cane.
While Karl took the weekend off to recuperate, he returned to the show for the official opening night on Monday (April 17) and was welcomed back by cheers from both the audience and the critics. After playing Tuesday’s show, he is resting for four performances this week. This two-time Tony Awards nominee is tackling the role played so memorably in the 1993 film classic by Bill Murray: Phil Connors, a disgruntled weatherman forced to relive the same day over and over. He makes lemonade out of lemons as he gets repeated chances to woo TV producer Rita Hanson (Barrett Doss).
On April 9, Karl won the Olivier Award for the acclaimed London run of the show last winter. He edged out home-grown favorites Charlie Stemp (“Half a Sixpence”) and Tyrone Huntley (“Jesus Christ Superstar”) as well as Irish song and dance man David Fynn (“School of Rock”) to win this top British acting honor. And “Groundhog Day” was named Best Musical over the first West End production of “Dreamgirls,” the musical adaptation of the hit film “Calendar Girls” retitled “The Girls” and “School of Rock.”
Karl’s win at the Oliviers coupled with his can-do attitude on this side of the Atlantic have vaulted him up our odds chart for Best Actor (Musical) at the Tony Awards. He is now within striking distance of “Dear Evan Hansen” star Ben Platt. And the goodwill generated by his stalwart attitude could give him the edge in this competitive race.
Likewise, his unexpected turn could cause Tony voters to take another look at this show, which boasts catchy tunes by Tony nominee Tim Minchin (“Matilda”) and a sparkling script by Danny Rubin who adapted his BAFTA award-winning screenplay. This production was first staged at the Old Vic in London, where helmer Matthew Warchus is the artistic director. He contended at the Oliviers as did choreographers Peter Darling and Ellen Kane, set and costume designer Rob Howell and lighting designer Hugh Vanstone.
Be sure to make your Tony Awards predictions. Weigh in now with your picks so that Broadway insiders can see how their shows and performers are faring in our Tony odds. You can keep changing your predictions until just before nominees are announced on May 2. And join in the fierce debate over the 2017 Tony Awards taking place right now in our theater forums.