A New Vision for On a Clear Day

By Brandon Voss
12 Nov 2011

David Turner
photo by Palma Kolansky
Mayer's reinterpretation also has the full support of the Lerner and Lane estates; Liza Lerner, the librettist-lyricist's daughter, is a producer.

"Without their blessing, this would just be an exercise I did at home for my own amusement," he says. "Besides, Alan Jay Lerner's book was never really finished. He revisited it over and over again through the years, and he was still toying with it as late as the early '80s."

Complementing the updated libretto, the musical's beloved score has been padded with songs from the 1970 film version starring Barbra Streisand — "I don't think it's considered the pinnacle of anyone's career either," Mayer adds — as well as tunes from Lerner and Lane's "Royal Wedding," a 1951 movie musical with Fred Astaire. "David was born the day Melinda died," Mayer explains. "Having set our story in the 1970s, we meet Melinda in the '40s, during the war, which is a beautiful fit for those 'Royal Wedding' songs."

On a Clear Day opens anew Dec. 11 at Broadway's St. James Theatre, though the streamlined production was initially slated to premiere earlier this year at Off-Broadway's Vineyard Theatre. "The original version of Clear Day was a tour de force for the actress playing Daisy, but Dr. Mark Bruckner is now the center of the story, and it's his journey that the audience goes on," Mayer says. "When you have Harry Connick, Jr. playing Mark, you go to Broadway. It's as simple as that."

Mayer politely declines to answer further inquiries about his vision, preferring instead to let theatregoers remain curious. "People will learn everything they need to know when they come see the show," he promises, "but it's important to remember that it's more than a revival. In my mind, it's a reincarnation."

With On a Clear Day getting a second life, is there another imperfect musical that Mayer is dying to reincarnate? "People also asked if there was another album I'd like to make into a musical after American Idiot, but the last thing I'm looking for at this moment is another project," he sighs. "Honestly, what I'd really like to do is take a long nap."