"Groundhog Day," courtesy Broadway.com
Published June 01, 2017
With more than 30 resident productions, there is always something new happening on Broadway. While “Hamilton” prepares to depart on a national tour, other shows are taking center stage in the theater world, such as the highly anticipated Broadway version of “Frozen,” coming in 2018, and award-winning revivals like “Miss Saigon” and “Hello Dolly.”
Family favorites also continue to pack theaters, from the whimsical tale of a lost Russian princess in “Anastasia” to a boy with a lucky golden ticket in “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.” As travel groups weigh these tremendous options, they should consider the following must-see shows from this season.
‘Come From Away’
Written by husband-and-wife team David Hein and Irene Sankoff, “Come From Away” sheds light on the remarkable true story of 38 planes that were forced to land outside a small Canadian town in the wake of the 9/11 terrorist attacks in 2001 when U.S. borders abruptly closed. Stranded for five days, nearly 7,000 passengers and flight crew members find themselves at the mercy of the townspeople of Gander, Newfoundland, who rally to house, feed and comfort their unexpected guests.
“It’s an amazing story of how these people opened their hearts and homes to complete strangers,” said Stephanie Lee, president of Broadway.com.
Over the course of 100 uninterrupted minutes, the audience will laugh and cry with different characters, from the terrified mother trying to reach her firefighter son back home to a pair of passengers who develop an unlikely romance and a Muslim man who must contend with the mistrust and alienation of his companions.
With so much turbulence in today’s world, the musical is a refreshing reminder of the human capacity for compassion and resilience in the face of difficult circumstances.
“Some people are put off by the idea of a musical about September 11th,” said Lee. “But it’s really a story about September 12th and the days following.”
“Come From Away” quickly rose to critical acclaim this year, receiving nominations for seven Tony awards, including Best Musical and Best Original Score.
Based on the classic 1993 film starring Bill Murray, “Groundhog Day” centers on a disgruntled weatherman, Phil Conners, as he begrudgingly travels to the sleepy town of Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, to cover the annual Groundhog Day celebration.
Due to the sudden arrival of a snowstorm, Phil and his crew are forced to stay the night. To his horror, he wakes the next morning to find himself reliving the same day all over again. As the time loop continues, his comical responses to the situation range from criminal escapades to suicidal attempts and Good Samaritan acts, accompanied by repeated efforts to win the affections of his producer, Rita.
The musical opened in London last year to rave critical reception, but the show experienced a rocky transition to Broadway when it arrived in early spring, which the cast and crew weathered with admirable resolve. In Act I of its first preview performance, a turntable malfunction forced the show to a halt, though cast members chose to sing the remaining musical numbers concert style, without staging or choreography.
During a subsequent preview show, just three days before its official premiere, lead actor Andy Karl suffered a severe knee injury onstage. In a true display of showmanship, he returned to the stage using a cane for support and completed the performance, and then received an emotional standing ovation at the end. Despite these initial setbacks, the musical proceeded to earn seven Tony Award nominations and continues to captivate audiences.
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