San Francisco's New Conservatory Theatre Center is currently presenting the revised version of Alan Jay Lerner and Burton Lane's On a Clear Day You Can See Forever, which had a brief run on Broadway in 2011 co-starring Harry Connick Jr. and Tony winner Jessie Mueller.
Directed by Ed Decker, the production, which began previews May 13, will officially open May 21 and continue through June 12.
For the Broadway revival, which played 57 performances at the St. James Theatre, Peter 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 director Michael Mayer, a grieving widower rooted in Freud, Dr. Mark Bruckner (Connick), falls in love with Melinda (Mueller), confusing the conduit patient, Davey (David Turner), who is gay and seeking harmony with his partner Warren.
When Decker saw the Broadway production in December 2011, he thought, “There’s a beautiful story in here that connects to our LGBTQIA mission very nicely. This could really be sweet and wonderful,” according to an interview in the San Francisco Chronicle.
The Chronicle also spoke with original director Mayer, who said the Broadway revival was a “heartbreaker…the single most crushing disappointment of my career.”
Mayer believes part of the problem may have been the casting of Connick Jr. as psychiatrist Dr. Mark Bruckner, although when they met, Tony winner Mayer said, “Harry was extremely enthusiastic and expressed how cool it would be for him to get out of his own comfort zone.”
“I think the impression that the creative team and the producers were given,” Mayer added, “was that fans expected a certain type of performance from Harry, which we were trying really hard to deliver. Sometimes at the expense of the integrity of the show.”
One such case was a kiss between Connick’s character and Davey that was supposed to happen at the end of the first act. Mayer didn't reveal who demanded the removal of that moment but did say, “It was made very clear to us that it could not happen on Broadway with [Harry]. I think the show suffered.”
New Conservatory bills the revised On a Clear Day as such: “This whimsical reimagining of the classic musical is just your typical musical comedy about hypnosis, gay florists with commitment issues, love triangles with your therapist, and past lives as a 1940s chanteuse.”
The San Francisco production has musical direction by Matthew Lee Cannon, choreography by Jayne Zaban and instrumental arrangements by Ben Prince.