By Harry Haun
12 Dec 2011
|Photo by Joseph Marzullo/WENN|
One can't help wondering what the late eight-times-wed Alan Jay Lerner would make of his Daisy Gamble, returning to Broadway for the first time in the Lerner-Burton Lane musical, On a Clear Day You Can See Forever, Dec. 11 at the St. James. In this "revisal" authorized by the Lerner heirs, somebody pulled his Daisy — to name names: director/re-conceiver Michael Mayer and his deputy, adapter Peter Parnell. Taking a Gamble, they turned Daisy into Davey, a gay florist who also takes his smoking addiction to a shrink to cure through hypnosis.
A highly suggestible type, Davey — like Daisy before him — overshoots the runway, travels into time past and turns into a past life, Melinda Wells, who seduces said psychiatrist, Dr. Mark Bruckner. The hitch in this time-travelling is that the arrow-straight doctor has to go through a gay guy to get his true love. There's the rub!
Here, the wealth is shared by David Turner and Jessie Mueller, requiring much head-scratching and soul-serving from the doctor on the case, Harry Connick, Jr., flashbacking over the case in front of his medical peers.
The original ride stopped in 18th century England; this one runs from 1974 to 1943 where Melinda is a nightclub chanteuse who only sings "Royal Wedding" songs — effortless Lerner-Lane evergreens like "Too Late Now," "Ev'ry Night at Seven," "Open Your Eyes," and Fred Astaire's ceiling song, "You're All the World to Me" — and it should be added that Mueller, in a dazzling Broadway bow, sings the hell out of them.
The Clear Day candy box is full of goodies as well, and most of them have made the reprise: "She Wasn't You," "Come Back to Me," the haunting "Melinda," "Hurry! It's Lovely Up Here," "Love With All the Trimmings," "Wait 'Til We're Sixty-Five," the title tune, "On the S.S. Bernard Cohn" and "What Did I Have That I Don't Have?"
That glorious score gave some buoyancy to a leaden plot top-heavy with psychobabble and reincarnation mumbo-jumbo — and Lerner was no stranger to book problems, save for My Fair Lady, which had an excellent first draft.
Indeed, the whole book to Paint Your Wagon was scrapped for the movie version, and Paddy Chayefsky came in to start a new script from Square One. He came up with some sort of triangle to hang the songs on — Jean Seberg/Clint Eastwood/Lee Marvin.
Mayer, thinking he was a pioneering revisionist, was surprised to hear Chayfesky got there first when told at the after-party that was splashed over three floors of The Plaza. On a clear day, at Vassar in 1996, he saw the gay twist to Lerner's un-Clear Day. "I was working on Side Man at New York Stage and Film, and it was like a light bulb went off in my head. Fifteen years ago — a long schlep."
And an uphill one, too — but "I've loved every minute of it, all the ups and the downs along the way, and I've really loved this company. I'm very proud of the production.
"I think the hardest thing was discovering, in the middle of the process, that what seemed like it would be a revival in the more conventional sense became really doing a new musical in the conventional sense. It evolved every day — huge evolutions and a lot of change and a lot of rethinking so it was a bear to do, but it was a wonderful bear. We all believe in it so it was a pleasure to do, but it was hard."Continued...