The next tenant of the St. James will be the musical Leap of Faith.
Tony Award-winning director Michael Mayer (Spring Awakening, American Idiot) and playwright Peter Parnell (QED) are behind the re-thought romantic musical comedy with a score by lyricist Alan Jay Lerner and composer Burton Lane. The estates of the writers gave the blessing to the rewrite. The staging, a long dream of Mayer's, opened Dec. 11, 2011, following previews from Nov. 12. Reviews were mostly negative; group sales, Connick's marquee value and holiday crowds briefly lifted business for the show.
Joining Tony nominee Connick (The Pajama Game) and Broadway newcomer Jessie Mueller as Melinda and David Turner (In My Life, Arcadia) as David Gamble are Kerry O'Malley as Sharone, Drew Gehling as Warren, Sarah Stiles as Muriel, Paul O'Brien, Heather Ayers, Lori Wilner, Benjamin Eakeley, Alex Ellis, Kendal Hartse, Grasan Kingsberry, Tyler Maynard, Zachary Prince, Alysha Umphress, Philip Hoffman, Sean Allan Krill, Patrick O'Neill and Christianne Tisdale.
Parnell fashioned a new libretto based on Lerner's 1965 original, about a shrink who hypnotizes patient Daisy Gamble, unlocking her past life. In the original, the good doctor fell in love with the past woman, named Melinda, leaving the present lady confused. In the 2011 version, conceived by Mayer, a grieving widower rooted in Freud, Dr. Mark Bruckner (Connick), falls in love with Melinda (Mueller, making her Broadway debut), confusing the conduit patient, Davey (Turner), who is gay and seeking harmony with his partner, Warren (Gehling).
Mayer told Playbill magazine that in the original 1965 script "there was no real problem, no real tension, no real dramatic spark. I realized how to tell basically the same story that Lerner tried to tell, but in a way that felt fresh and gave everyone onstage a serious obstacle."
|photo by Paul Kolnik|
He added, "Did I worry about tampering with something that never worked in the first place? No, I didn't have any anxiety about that. My only concern was maintaining the integrity of the original idea and creating an exciting, romantic and entertaining platform for the spectacular songs. Since the first time somebody set a Shakespeare play in a period other than 16th-century England, other people's work has been reinterpreted."
The new version of On a Clear Day includes most of the original Tony Award-nominated Broadway score, adds songs from the film version, and interpolates Lerner and Lane numbers from the M-G-M film "Royal Wedding."
Musical staging is by JoAnn M. Hunter.
The creative team included American Idiot Tony Award winner Christine Jones (sets), five-time Tony Award winner Catherine Zuber (costumes), American Idiot and Spring Awakening Tony Award winner Kevin Adams (lighting), Peter Hylenski (sound), Tom Watson (hair), Lawrence Yurman (music director and arrangements), and three-time Tony Award winner Doug Besterman (orchestrations).
Here's how the producers characterized the romantic musical comedy: "Love blooms in unexpected places in the delightfully reimagined world of On a Clear Day You Can See Forever. Still in love with his deceased wife, Dr. Mark Bruckner (Harry Connick, Jr.), a dashing psychiatrist and professor, unknowingly takes on the case of his life with David Gamble (David Turner), a quirky young florists' assistant. While putting David under hypnosis to help him quit smoking so he can move in with his perfect boyfriend Warren (David Gehling), Dr. Bruckner stumbles upon what he believes to be David’s former self — a dazzling and self-possessed 1940s jazz singer Melinda Wells (Jessie Mueller). Instantly intrigued by Melinda, Dr. Bruckner finds himself swept up in the pursuit of an irresistible (and impossible) love affair with this woman from another time and place, who may or may not have ever existed."
The score includes the songs "Come Back To Me," "What Did I Have That I Don't Have Now?," "She Isn't You," and the title song, plus "Love With All the Trimmings" and "Go to Sleep," as well as "Ev'ry Night at Seven," "You're All the World To Me," "Open Your Eyes" and "Too Late Now."
Originating producer Liza Lerner joined with Tom Hulce and Ira Pittelman and Broadway Across America (John Gore, Thomas B. McGrath, Beth Williams) to bring the show to Broadway.