Kristin Chenoweth will play one of musical theatre's oddest and most original characters, telesthetic Daisy Gamble, in the Encores! concert staging of Alan Jay Lerner and Burton Lane's On a Clear Day You Can See Forever, Feb. 10-13.
Mark Brokaw will direct the yarn, a rare original musical not based on a previous source, about a woman with extra-sensory powers (and past lives) who consults a shrink named Dr. Marc Bruckner (to be played by Ragtime's Peter Friedman). She finds the fascinated doctor rummaging through her past life, falling in love with a previous identity, Melinda, of 18th-century England.
Melinda's lover, Edward Moncrief, is to be played by Brent Barrett. Daisy's uptight fiancee, Warren, will be Chenoweth's You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown co-star (and fellow Tony Award winner), Roger Bart.
The 1965 tuner is a product of Lerner's fevered imagination, and punctuated by plot points that might only seem commercial in the 1960s: Among other things, Daisy has the power to make flowers grow at a rapid pace, if she puts her mind to it ("Hurry," she sings to the bulbs in the opening number, "it's lovely up here!"). Not often revived, the score has some now-classic tunes in it, including the title song and "Melinda," "What Did I Have That I Don't Have?," "Come Back to Me," "She Wasn't You," and more. Vincente Minnelli directed a film version that starred Barbra Streisand, with an altered score that added "Go to Sleep" and "Love With All the Trimmings," but those tunes will not be heard in this concert, according to a spokesperson.
This is the first of three productions in the 2000 Encores! season. Tenderloin and Wonderful Town are next.
John Carrafa will choreograph, and Rob Fisher, the series' musical director, will conduct at City Center.
On a Clear Day ran for 280 performances and starred John Cullum and Barbara Harris.
Lerner, known as a depressive procrastinator on creative projects, was fascinated by ESP (extrasensory perception) and cooked up the plot about two very different lovers. The show's ending remains chaste, but hopeful, in the same way My Fair Lady ended with a sigh rather than a kiss. In addition to My Fair Lady, Lerner wrote lyrics for Paint Your Wagon, Brigadoon, Gigi and Camelot.
One of the working titles for On a Clear Day was I Picked a Daisy.
Chenoweth rose to Broadway fame in a flash after regional and stock work. She won the 1999 Best Featured Actress (Musical) Tony Award for You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown. She also appeared in Steel Pier, Lincoln Center's A New Brain, and the fall 1999 Broadway comedy, Epic Proportions. The staging if the Gershwins' Strike Up the Band was her previous Encores! appearance. A TV series has reportedly been developed for her.
Bart was also a Best Featured Actor Tony winner for Charlie Brown, playing Snoopy. He was seen in The Who's Tommy and Triumph of Love, on Broadway.
Barrett appeared in Grand Hotel on Broadway, and is expected to return to his role as Billy Flynn in Broadway's Chicago revival Feb. 15.
Friedman originated the role of Tateh in Broadway's Ragtime.
Encores! Great American Musicals in Concert has been one of the great success stories for City Center: Star casts present seldom-revived shows with script in hand, backed by a full orchestra. Call Me Madam, The Boys From Syracuse, Out of This World, St. Louis Woman and Ziegfeld Follies of 1936 are among revivals heard in concert. The hit Broadway revival staging of Chicago began as an Encores! presentation.
For ticket information, call (212) 581-1212 or visit the City Center website at www.citycenter.org.
-- By Kenneth Jones