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Andy Karl: 'Groundhog Day' Seven Days A Week

Andy Karl on NPR's Ask Me Another at the Bell House in Brooklyn, New York.
Mike Katzif
Andy Karl on NPR's Ask Me Another at the Bell House in Brooklyn, New York.

Two-time Tony nominee Andy Karl is no stranger to the movie-turned-Broadway musical. His very first Broadway performance was in Saturday Night Fever,where he met his wife Orfeh; they both performed in Legally Blonde: The Musical(for which she received a Tony nomination); and he was nominated for his first Tony for playing Rocky Balboa in Rocky the Musical. So when he heard about the plans to adapt Groundhog Day, the classic comedy about grumpy weatherman Phil Connors who is stuck in Punxsutawney, Philadelphia, living the same day over and over for years and years, what was his first thought? "Run for the hills," he joked to host Ophira Eisenberg. "It's good if you do it right,"he continued in all honesty. According to Karl, to create a successful adaptation "you have to deconstruct the movie in order to put it back together again as a musical. Groundhog Day does that in spades. It's an amazing work of art." The quality and care with which the show was crafted drew him to get involved. "Once I read the script, and howthey were gonna do that, that's when I was like, 'I have to do this show!' and I auditioned my butt off."

So how does he approach playing these well-known roles? For Rocky, he ended up playing a caricature of Sylvester Stallone's singular performance. "Because, yo, if you don't do it like this, and you don't roll your shoulders," he told Eisenberg in a consumate impression, "it's synonymous with the movie and that type of character needs to be portrayed." But to play the iconic Phil Connors, a role originated by Bill Murray, he had to find a way to make the role more of his own. He asked himself, "What's the jerk inside of me...I've gotta find out how I can be really sardonic and crappy to people in the beginning of the show, all with, like, this weatherman smile. And then how do you evolve into the sort of found person at the end of the show? And so it became really personal."

In honor of his role, we quizzed Karl on celebrities who got their start as weather forecasters.


Andy Karl on the lessons in Groundhog Day

[Rita] says, looking at the day differently, 'you're actually the lucky one. You get to relive the same day and you get to do whatever you want with it.' And that's what's so profound about this show...[Phil] begins to understand that life goes on...so really profound ideas that still give me chills still now when I think about it.

Andy Karl on tearing his ACL 72 hours before opening night

I was doing something I do a million times in the show. I run from stage right to stage left full speed, leapfrog over somebody, catch a girl in my arms, and save a cat falling from the sky. Simple stuff, right? So the leapfrog took me down. My ACL tore completely.

Heard on Andy Karl: 'Groundhog Day' Seven Days A Week

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