‘Groundhog Day’ star Andy Karl injured during show three days before opening

Andy Karl started off the week by winning the Olivier Award for his performance in the musical “Groundhog Day” and ended it hobbled by an onstage injury. 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).

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During the performance on Good Friday (April 14), Karl 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, soon insisted that the show must go on and he finished it out with the aid of a hastily acquired cane.

While the Saturday matinee was cancelled, Karl’s understudy, Andrew Call, was to step in for the Saturday evening performance. The show is dark Sunday and is scheduled to officially open on Monday, April 17.

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This is not the first mishap to beset this production. The first preview, back on March 16, was plagued by technical troubles that resulted it most of the show being presented as a concert. After a turntable proved temperamental in Act 1, the company sang the show’s tunes by Tony nominee Tim Minchin (“Matilda”) straight out to the audience, abandoning the 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. It reaped eight Olivier Awards nominations, including Best Musical, Best Actor (Karl) and Best Director. Also in contention at the Oliviers were choreographers Peter Darling and Ellen Kane, set and costume designer Rob Howell and lighting designer Hugh Vanstone.

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