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Harry Connick, Jr. Stars in "On a Clear Day You Can See Forever" at the St. James Theatre
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Harry Connick, Jr. Stars in "On a Clear Day You Can See Forever" at the St. James Theatre

- Backstage with the Playwrights


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Tom Hulce & Ira Pittelman, Liza Lerner
Broadway Across America
et al.
Present:

Harry Connick, Jr.

in
On a Clear Day You Can See Forever
(On a Clear Day… Website)

Music by Burton Lane
Lyrics by Alan Jay Lerner
New Book by Peter Parnell
Based on the Original Book by Alan Jay Lerner

At
St. James Theatre
246 West 44th Street
212.239.6200

Starring:
David Turner, Jessie Mueller,
Drew Gehling, Sarah Stiles,
Paul O’Brien, Heather Ayers,
Lori Wilner, Kerry O’Malley,

And an ensemble of actors/singers/dancers

Re-Conceived and Directed by Michael Mayer
Choreographed by Joann M. Hunter
Music Director, Vocal & Instrumental Music Arrangements:
Lawrence Yurman
Orchestrations: Doug Besterman
Scenic Design: Christine Jones
Costume Design: Catherine Zuber
Lighting Design: Kevin Adams
Sound Design: Peter Hylenski
Wig & Hair Design: Tom Watson
Casting: Jim Carnahan, CSA/Stephen Kopel
Production Stage Manager: Lisa Iacucci
Music Coordinator: John Miller
Assoc. Producers: Stage Ventures 2011 Ltd. Partnership
Assoc. Director: Austin Regan
Assoc. Choreographer: Scott Taylor
Press Representative: The Hartman Group
Marketing: Type A Marketing/Anne Rippey
General Manager: The Charlotte Wilcox Company
Technical Supervision: Hudson Theatrical Associates


Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
December 14, 2011 Matinee


I couldn’t remember the original 1965 show by Burton Lane and Alan Jay Lerner, but there was never a burning need to visit it. When I heard about this revival I was curious, and Harry Connick, Jr. was a big draw. Oh, how disappointing. This incarnation of On a Clear Day You Can See Forever had almost no musical dynamism, no riveting songs, no engaging story. In fact, it had one new element that was such a letdown that I couldn’t stop thinking about how much it should be restructured to its original form. Mr. Connick is a psychiatrist, Dr. Mark Bruckner, who’s emotionally languishing, pining for his deceased wife. His patient, David Gamble (David Turner), wants to give up smoking for his partner, Maurice (Paul O’Brien), so they can move in together. Subsequently, David, a florist, seeks help from Mark, who hypnotizes him, in the effort to abandon cigarettes, and, in the process, David morphs into Melinda Wells (Jessie Mueller), a splashy, up and coming big band crooner, who seduces Mark with her style. Melinda is David’s former self, and Mark wants to undo her final fate, so she can move into his future life. So, there are numerous repetitive scenes, whereby David is encouraged to seek more and more hypnosis to enable Melinda and the doctor’s tęte-a-tętes. Side characters include David’s platonic friend Muriel (Sarah Stiles), who shares his apartment, and Dr. Sharone Stein (Kerry O’Malley), Mark’s professional partner, who’s both sympathetic and tough.

The mostly forgettable songs, which are supposed to evoke the 1974 setting and the 1940’s reincarnations, included a few winners, like Melinda’s “Ev’ry Night at Seven”, sung with Radio Singers, David’s “What Did I Have that I Don’t Have”, Mark and Melinda’s “Too Late Now”, and of course the title song, sung sadly by Mark in rather slow motion. Most of these hits closed the show, and among the first act numbers, “Open Your Eyes” was reprised twice. Christine Jones’ sets were supposed to be hypnotic, and they were, with swirling or geometric designs and bright, spring-like colors splashed throughout the backdrops. Catherine Zuber’s costumes were also in bright palettes, but they did add sparkle to the dreariness of the mood. Michael Mayer’s directing seemed to induce a tone of psychological despair, but the ladies at this matinee didn’t seem to be numbed, as they were huge Harry Connick, Jr. fans, and they let him know, time and again. I kept thinking about Michael Feinstein in All About Me, staged last season (with a vivacious Dame Edna), that gave Mr. Feinstein a dramatic entrance a minute. Mr. Connick’s entrances in this show, with his dark glasses and physician demeanor, were hardly dramatic, rather dispirited, instead. Joann Hunter’s choreography was best when Melinda was wooing her fans, and, in these scenes, Mr. Connick and Ms. Mueller drew me in with some swaying and footwork.

The scenes with David and friends seemed trite and contrived and totally unnecessary. I would love to see this show on the small stage, with Melinda portrayed as she was in the original version, as one woman, who morphs into her past and present characters. The 1940’s and 1970’s seem fine for scene timelines, but the dual sex device of the hypnosis – reincarnation scenes had Mark and David kissing at times in awkward confusion and sub-sub plots, extraneous to the story. I’d also love to see a different show about David and his friends, as he wins his struggle with cigarettes and Maurice wins his struggle with David. That thematic thread added more dizziness to the already dizzy proceedings. Mr. Connick’s vocal talent is incredible, but here it was almost negligible, as he couldn’t gain musical momentum. Of the other performers, Jessie Mueller is an actor-vocalist to watch, with charisma, clarity, and craft. David Turner did his best with the role, and, as mentioned, he’d be great in another show that expands his story with Maurice, as those scenes with David and Maurice were so entertaining on their own.



David Turner, Jessie Mueller,
Harry Connick, Jr., in
"On a Clear Day You Can See Forever"
Courtesy of Nicole Rivelli



Jessie Mueller and Harry Connick, Jr.,
in "On a Clear Day You Can See Forever"
Courtesy of Paul Kolnik



Jessie Mueller and Cast
in "On a Clear Day You Can See Forever"
Courtesy of Paul Kolnik



David Turner and Drew Gehling
in "On a Clear Day You Can See Forever"
Courtesy of Paul Kolnik



For more information, contact Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower at zlokower@bestweb.net