Theatre Preview: “Groundhog Day” at the Barn Theatre
The role of Phil Connors in the musical Groundhog Day, (the 2016 musical based on the 1993 film starring Bill Murray), is a theme-and-variations tour-de-force. Barn Theatre actor Eric Parker, who is on stage for all but a few minutes of the show, talks to Cara Lieurance about his character’s journey toward self-realization through countless repetitions of the same day. He’s joined by Melissa Cotton Hunter, who plays love interest Rita while also serving as lead choreographer for the 2022 season at the Barn Theatre. She’s choreographed Seven Brides for Seven Brothers and Cinderella already.
Tim Minchin’s clever lyrics and eclectic use of styles make the show one of the smartest and funniest in recent years. Parker, who has played hundreds of roles at the Barn and brings a wealth of experience from his work in Chicago theater, says even though his character is playing the same day over and over, it’s incredible how much variety the scenes have when they’re slightly changed. Cotton Hunter says her acting challenge is how her character Rita meets, dislikes, then comes to care for Phil all in one day. The cast of around two dozen play Punxatawney townspeople we know from the film, including insurance salesman Ned Ryerson, who is played by director Patrick Hunter. Each has his or her special moment, according to Parker and Cotton Hunter.
Groundhog Day runs July 26-Aug 7. Tickets are available online at the Barn Theatre website.