On Tuesday, the 66-year-old comedian went back in time — taking in a performance of Groundhog Day, the Broadway musical based on his hit 1993 movie about a cranky TV weatherman who gets stuck in a time warp while covering the Groundhog Day ceremonies in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania and is forced to relive the same day over and over again until he gets it right.
It was Murray’s first time seeing the musical, which was nominated for seven 2017 Tony awards and took home London’s Olivier Award for Best Musical. And according to reports from The New York Times, it was an emotional outing for Murray — who was said to be “visibly sobbing” at the end of the performance.
What brought him to tears? “The idea that we just have to try again,” Murray told The Times, describing the story’s main message. “We just have to try again. It’s such a beautiful, powerful idea.”
He likely wasn’t the only one who broke down Tuesday night.
After being greeted with a round of applause upon his entrance into the August Wilson Theater, fans in the audience flocked to the Saturday Night Live alum with photo requests at intermission and after the show.
Murray graciously posed for photos, The Times said — offering one liners and even sharing his Junior Mints with two young boys. He was just as generous with the bartenders, tipping $50 on a water while asking, “This is too much for a glass of water?”
There were jokes throughout, of course. When one audience member told him he looked “taller and thinner,” Murray reportedly responded, “Yeah, I’ve been working out.”
Afterwards, Murray went backstage — where he mingled with cast members, including Tony nominee Andy Karl, who plays Murray’s role of Phil Connors.
Accompanied by his brother, Brian Doyle-Murray (who played Buster in the movie) and Danny Rubin (who co-wrote film’s screenplay and the musical’s book), Murray also posed for photos with the cast.
Then he gave them some advice. “When you ever feel you don’t know what to do, sing to the person next to you,” Murray said. “And that person will sing to the person next to that person, and then you will have this force that’s even stronger.”
“As actors, I can’t respect enough how disciplined you are and how serving you are of the process,” he added. “There’s nothing worse than seeing someone that’s out for themselves. And you are all in it for each other.”
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Groundhog Day opened on Broadway in April after premiering at the Old Vic in London the summer prior.
The musical features a score by Tim Minchin, who reunited with the Matilda scene and costume designer (Rob Howell), choreographer (Peter Darling) and director (Matthew Warchus) for the project.
The film was directed by the late Harold Ramis — with whom Murray famously clashed during filming and did not speak to for decades after. Asked what Ramis would think of the musical, Murray told The Times, “I think he would’ve been flabbergasted. Brian and I are flabbergasted. It’s really something.”