You know you’re in strange country when a strong, sane psychiatrist talks seriously about reincarnation.
David Turner as David Gamble, Jessie Mueller as Melinda Wells and Harry Connick Jr as Dr. Mark Bruckner in “On A Clear Day You Can See Forever.” Photo by Nicole Rivelli
This peculiar territory is the premise of Alan Jay Lerner’s and Burton Lane’s 1965 musical “On A Clear Day You Can See Forever,” at The St. James Theatre. (See opening night video.)
A word in retrospect, now that “On A Clear Day…” has drifted off into the sunset: Acting on “Law and Order” or performing one of his charming concerts, Harry Connick Jr. is a Sinatra for his generation. It has to be admitted that in “On A Clear Day…,” he was not at his best, which is still pretty good.
The premise of the play is made all the odder still by script updates to Lerner’s book contributed by Peter Parnell. Odder but still charming in its own loopy way.
Reset to 1974, with a bright psychedelic set by Christine Jones, “On A Clear Day…” is also enlivened by the presence, in addition to Harry Connick, Jr. as Dr. Mark Bruckner, of star discoveries, David Turner as his patient David Gamble and Jessie Mueller as Melinda Wells, David Gamble’s most recent past life.
David stumbles into Dr. Bruckner’s care after being inadvertently hypnotized, a trick the doctor performs during the class David goes to with his roommate Muriel (Sarah Stiles). It turns out that David is extremely susceptible to hypnosis.
David’s sessions with Dr. Bruckner lead to the revelation that David was once Melinda Wells, an attractive and lively band singer from the ’40s. When Dr. Bruckner meets her, he is smitten.
David Turner as David Gamble with Drew Gehling as Warren Smith, in a photo by Paul Kolnik
In the original version, Dr. Bruckner’s patient was a woman. The original plot had none of the unwonted sexual-identity complications introduced in the current production.
Unwonted because Dr. Bruckner is straight. He is a man who, after three years, is still grieving the death of his wife. The complications, in which David thinks Dr. Bruckner is in love with him, and that he is in love with Dr. Bruckner, make the story line seem even more eccentric.
Kerry O’Malley as Dr. Sharone Stein, Dr. Bruckner’s colleague and friend, in a photo by Paul Kolnik
David Turner is an exceptionally spirited performer. Drew Gehling who plays his lover, Warren Smith, is excellent. Jessie Mueller has plenty of talent. Lori Wilner’s Mrs. Hatch, a secretary in the Kravis Institute where Dr. Bruckner works, delivers some very entertaining psycho-patter.
In fact, everyone in the cast of “A Clear Day…” does a terrific job in convincing us that all is well and normal. And the songs are truly lovely.
So, in short, all is forgiven, even though the day may be clear but the plot a bit foggy.
For more information about “On A Clear Day You Can See Forever” visit http://onacleardaybroadway.com/
A short history of “On A Clear Day…” can be found at Wikipedia:
The 1970 film adaptation, directed by Vincente Minelli, of the original Broadway hit (it received three Tony nods) starred Barbara Steisand, Yves Montand and Jack Nicholson. _______________________________________________________________________ Now that “On A Clear Day…” has drifted off into the sunset: Acting on “Law and Order” or performing one of his charming concerts, Harry Connick Jr. is a Sinatra for his generation. It has to be admitted that in “On A Clear Day…,” he was not at his best, which is still pretty good.