This Week in New York Insider's Guide to Arts & Culture in New York City Since 2001

21Dec/11

ON A CLEAR DAY YOU CAN SEE FOREVER

Jessie Mueller and Harry Connick, Jr., star in Broadway reincarnation of ON A CLEAR DAY

St. James Theatre
246 West 44th St. between Broadway & Eighth Aves.
Tickets: $35 - $162
www.onacleardaybroadway.com

Falling firmly into the “What in the world were they thinking?” category, Michael Mayer’s reincarnation of the middling 1965 Burton Lane and Alan Jay Lerner Broadway musical On a Clear Day You Can See Forever is a convoluted mess, one that clearly should not have been brought back to life. Previously nominated for a Tony for his performance in The Pajama Game, Harry Connick, Jr. is all stiff shoulders as Dr. Mark Bruckner, a psychiatrist detailing a bizarre case at a 1974 industry convention. Bruckner addresses the audience directly, describing his unorthodox treatment of a young, gay florist, David Gamble (a rather limp David Turner), who came to him requesting hypnosis to help him stop smoking. But while the subject is under, Dr. Bruckner, who has not gotten over the death of his wife several years before, falls in love with 1940s chanteuse Melinda Wells (the dazzling Jessie Mueller), whom he believes to be David’s previous incarnation. As the doctor romances Melinda, David begins to wonder if Bruckner is falling in love with him, Dr. Bruckner’s colleagues at the institute, including Dr. Sharone Stein (Kerry O’Malley), who believes she is the right one for him, start thinking he might be going off the deep end, and the audience is left to consider just how this “revival” made it back to Broadway for another life. With a book by Peter Parnell adapted from the original, which starred Tony nominees John Cullum and Barbara Harris and featured Harris playing Daisy Gamble and an eighteenth-century Melinda Wells, this new version is more confusing than ever, adding songs from the 1970 Vincente Minnelli film that paired Yves Montand and Barbra Streisand as well as from Lane and Lerner’s 1951 MGM musical, Royal Wedding, performed by Mueller in the 1940s scenes. While Mueller is a standout belting away at such numbers as “Open Your Eyes” and “Too Late Now,” the rest of the production falls flat, with uninspired choreography by Joann M. Hunter, silly optical designs by Christine Jones, and a plot that can’t decide whether it’s serious or camp. This is one Clear Day that is overcast and gray.

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