×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

On a Clear Day You Can See Forever

Director Michael Mayer ("Spring Awakening," "American Idiot") has taken it upon himself, with the help of playwright Peter Parnell, to reconceive Alan Jay Lerner and Burton Lane's 1965 musical "On a Clear Day You Can See Forever."

With:
Dr. Mark Bruckner - Harry Connick Jr.
David Gamble - David Turner
Muriel Bunson - Sarah Stiles
Dr. Sharone Stein - Kerry O'Malley
Melinda Wells - Jessie Mueller
Warren Smith - Drew Gehling

Director Michael Mayer (“Spring Awakening,” “American Idiot”) has taken it upon himself, with the help of playwright Peter Parnell, to reconceive Alan Jay Lerner and Burton Lane’s 1965 musical “On a Clear Day You Can See Forever.” The original was an eight-month failure; this version, with radical rewrites encouraged by the authors’ estates in hopes of generating income, features a sex change and a bifurcated leading role, but the outlook for this “Clear Day” is stormy.

The play initially was constructed as a vehicle for a star singer/comedienne (played by Barbara Harris on stage, Barbra Streisand on screen). The challenge and the fun came from watching an insecure neurotic instantly and repeatedly transformed through hypnosis into her glamorous, past-life self. Mayer has seen fit to divide this star part in half and have it played by two actors, removing the one element that thoroughly worked in the original.

Barbara and Barbra were supported by a subsidiary leading man, a psychiatrist who mostly stood around and watched the irrepressible and lovable star. The new scheme forces the doctor, here played by Harry Connick Jr., to carry the show. It’s an impossible task for a character who largely stands around watching when he isn’t standing around singing.

The skeleton of the “Clear Day” plot is retained, but without a leading lady playing dual roles, it’s like a banana split without bananas. Melinda’s neurotic half, Daisy, is now played by a slip of a boy who works in a flower shop; the unsuccessful surgery weakens the score. Some songs, which refer to Daisy’s excised ESP story thread, seem robbed of their meaning; the now extraneous title song is relegated to the closing spot. Two songs have been transformed into overblown production numbers, and the new plot calls for seven reprises. (Added songs come from the Fred Astaire pic “Royal Wedding.”) The keen listener will notice numerous unfamiliar lyrics; Lerner seems to have been rewritten by an uncredited hand, and clumsily so.

The main items of interest in this misguided affair are the performances of the split-in-two heroine. Jessie Mueller, as the glamorous Melinda, is a find; the character has been transformed into a 1943 jazz singer, and Mueller handles this extremely well when given a chance (as in “Ev’ry Night at Seven”). David Turner plays Davey — formerly Daisy — and acquits himself respectably in a role that might well have come across as offensive.

Christine Jones’ scenery, which complemented the concepts of Mayer’s “Spring Awakening” and “American Idiot,” here is built on psychiatric patterns of lines, stripes and triangles filled with blues, purples and oranges, and at times is almost painful to look at. The action has been moved to 1974, as evidenced by Catherine Zuber’s costumes, heavy on bellbottoms and platform shoes.

Popular on Variety

On a Clear Day You Can See Forever

St. James; 1,365 seats; $147 top

Production: A Tom Hulce and Ira Pittelman, Liza Lerner, Broadway Across America, Joseph Smith, Michael McCabe, Bernie Abrams/Michael Speyer, Takonkiet Viravan/Scenario Thailand, Michael Watt, Jacki Barlia Florin-Adam Blanshay/Chauspeciale/Astrachan and Jupin, Paul Boskind and Martian Entertainment, Brannon Wiles and Carlos Arana/Christopher Maring presentation of a musical in two acts with music by Burton Lane; lyrics by Alan Jay Lerner; book by Peter Parnell, based on the original book by Lerner. Directed and reconceived by Michael Mayer; choreographed by Joann M. Hunter. Music direction/arrangements, Lawrence Yurman.

Creative: Sets, Christine Jones; costumes, Catherine Zuber; lighting, Kevin Adams; sound, Peter Hylenski; orchestrations, Doug Besterman; production stage manager, Lisa Iacucci. Opened Dec. 11, 2011, reviewed Dec. 8. Running time: 2 HOURS, 30 MINS.

Cast: Dr. Mark Bruckner - Harry Connick Jr.
David Gamble - David Turner
Muriel Bunson - Sarah Stiles
Dr. Sharone Stein - Kerry O'Malley
Melinda Wells - Jessie Mueller
Warren Smith - Drew GehlingWith: Paul O'Brien, Heather Ayers, Lori Wilner, Benjamin Eakeley, Alex Ellis, Kendal Hartse, Grasan Kingsberry, Tyler Maynard, Zachary Prince, Alysha Umphress.

More Legit

  • Ben McKenzie

    'Gotham' Star Ben McKenzie to Make Broadway Debut in 'Grand Horizons'

    “Gotham” star Ben McKenzie will make his Broadway debut in Bess Wohl’s “Grand Horizons.” He joins a cast that includes Oscar nominees Jane Alexander (“Kramer vs. Kramer,” “The Great White Hope”) and James Cromwell (“Babe,” “L.A. Confidential”). The show has a strictly limited 10-week run and begins previews on Dec. 23, 2019, before officially opening [...]

  • The Great Society review

    Listen: Brian Cox on 'Succession,' Shakespeare, and the Crisis We're In

    Brian Cox is having a pop-culture moment with “Succession,” the buzzy HBO series in which he stars. But he’s also an accomplished theater actor with plenty of experience doing Shakespeare — and it serves him well in both “Succession” and in his current Broadway show, “The Great Society.” Listen to this week’s podcast below: Cox [...]

  • Scooby Doo Ella Louise Allaire Martin

    Scooby-Doo Live Theater Tour Is Goofy Dane's Latest Adventure

    From its 1969 start as a Saturday morning kids mystery cartoon series “Scooby-Doo, Where Are You!” starring its titular, talking Great Dane and his four teenaged friends, has made adventure its staple. Once Hanna-Barbera’s successor, Warner Bros. Animation, took the leash, Scooby and company became a comic book, a board game, a series of video [...]

  • Tootsie Santino Fontana

    'Tootsie' Ending Broadway Run in January

    “Tootsie,” the critically acclaimed musical adaptation of the 1982 classic film comedy, will play its final Broadway performance on Jan. 5, 2020. When it wraps up its run, the show will have logged 293 regular and 25 preview performances at the cavernous Marquis Theatre, where it sometimes labored to draw big crowds. Last week, “Tootsie” [...]

  • Laurel Griggs

    Laurel Griggs, Broadway and 'SNL' Actress, Dies at 13

    Laurel Griggs, who starred in Broadway’s “ONCE the Musical” as Ivanka, has died. She was 13. An obituary posted to Dignity Memorial indicates she died on Nov. 5, and Griggs’ grandfather wrote on Facebook that her death was due to a massive asthma attack. Griggs made her Broadway debut when she was six years old [...]

  • West End celling collapse

    Ceiling Collapse at 'Death of a Salesman' Leads to Theater Closure, Boycott Threats

    The West End revival of “Death of a Salesman” has moved into a temporary space after parts of the ceiling of Piccadilly Theatre collapsed during a Wednesday night performance. Five audience members sustained minor injuries and were taken to area hospitals. The theater will remain closed for the rest of the week. In the meantime, [...]

  • Tina review

    Broadway Review: 'Tina'

    “Now, that’s what I call a Broadway show!” That’s what the stranger sitting next to me at the Lunt-Fontanne Theater yelled into my ear at the roof-raising finale of “Tina: The Tina Turner Musical.” I’d say he nailed it. Call “Tina” a jukebox musical or a bio-musical or anything you want to call it, but [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content