The first preview of the new Broadway musical Groundhog Day had a shaky start for the crew and the cast, including leading man Andy Karl, who plays Phil Connors, a TV weatherman who experiences the same day again and again.
“We started the show without a hitch, the audience was loving it, all fifteen minutes of it—before we had a glitch,” Karl told Broadway.com.
A malfunction of the set’s turntable stopped the show cold. Seemingly.
“There was this moment when the gas ran out of our tanks,” Karl continued.
Any other creative team might simply cancel the remainder of the performance. Not veteran director Matthew Warchus, who had the quick idea to perform the rest of the show as a concert, free of blocking and choreography. The cast started from where they’d stopped. And to their pleasant surprise, the audience was on their side 100%. The evening continued as one of those performances that will make an indelible mark on theater history.
“The first audience was in support of us," says Karl. "They really wanted to see a brand-new show.”
As for the show's set presenting its own “Groundhog Day” and causing a problem at tonight’s performance, Karl says in pleasant relief, “It’s solved and we’re doing the show tonight. We just did a run-through this afternoon.”
For Karl, a two-time Tony-nominated Broadway regular, the show’s team coming together with theatergoers to pull off Groundhog Day’s March 16 first preview will remain a supportive night he’ll certainly never forget.
“Between the cast and the crew and audience, we made the most remarkable theater experience I’ve ever had. It was certainly, I think, what theater has to be all about.”