A New Life! Harry Connick, Jr. Will Star in Broadway's On a Clear Day, as Reconceived by Michael Mayer
By Kenneth Jones
The revised revival of the musical On a Clear Day You Can See Forever, once aimed for Off-Broadway, has been bumped to Broadway and will star Tony Award nominee Harry Connick, Jr.
The show — as reconceived by Tony-winning director Michael Mayer, with a new book by Peter Parnell — will open in fall 2011, producers announced on March 1.
The Tony Award-nominated score by Burton Lane (music) and Alan Jay Lerner (lyrics) is enhanced by classics from their film scores for "On A Clear Day You Can See Forever" (1970) and "Royal Wedding" (1951). The new libretto is based on the original book by Lerner.
Additional cast and creatives will be announced. Dates and venue will be announced.
Originating producer Liza Lerner joins with Tom Hulce and Ira Pittelman and Broadway Across America (John Gore, Thomas B. McGrath, Beth Williams) to bring On a Clear Day to Broadway.
Here's how they bill the show: "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, 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, Dr. Bruckner stumbles upon what he believes to be David's former self — a dazzling and self-possessed 1940s jazz singer Melinda Wells. 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.
"Michael Mayer and Peter Parnell's enchanting new version celebrates much of the beloved score from the 1965 musical including the classic hits 'Come Back To Me,' 'What Did I Have That I Don't Have Now?,' 'She Isn't You,' and the title song, while adding songs from the film score such as 'Love With All The Trimmings' and 'Go To Sleep.' Songs from the Lerner and Lane score for the film 'Royal Wedding' such as 'Ev'ry Night at Seven,' 'You're All the World to Me,' 'Open Your Eyes' and 'Too Late Now' complete the landscape for this romantic musical comedy."
The production "makes the case for living life with your eyes, and heart, wide open."
Following a sold-out concert series at Broadway's Lunt-Fontanne Theatre in 1990, Tony nominations for his performance in The Pajama Game and his music and lyrics in Thou Shalt Not, Connick (already an Emmy Award winner and Grammy Award winner) returned to Broadway in the summer of 2010 with the critically acclaimed, sold-out run of Harry Connick, Jr. in Concert on Broadway at the Neil Simon Theatre. It was released in a hi-definition DVD/Blu-ray video version on March 1 and will appear on PBS.
Together, On a Clear Day's Burton Lane (composer) and Alan Jay Lerner (lyricist/librettist) wrote also the M-G-M movie musical "Royal Wedding" and the Broadway musical Carmelina.
Lerner is best known for writing the songs (with composer Frederick Loewe) to Paint Your Wagon, Brigadoon, My Fair Lady, Camelot and the film "Gigi" (later adapted into a stage production).
Lane's best known Broadway score is Finian's Rainbow, with E.Y. Harburg. His other Broadway scores include Hold on to Your Hats, Three's a Crowd, Earl Carroll's Vanities and Laffing Room Only. During his career, Lane composed songs for over 45 films.
Parnell's plays include QED, which starred Alan Alda both at the Mark Taper Forum and on Broadway at the Vivian Beaumont Theatre (Lincoln Center Theater). His two-part stage adaptation of John Irving's The Cider House Rules won the American Theatre Critics Association Award. His other plays have been produced by the Atlantic, the Public Theater, and Playwrights Horizons.
Mayer won a Tony Award for his direction of Spring Awakening and most recently won the Drama Desk Award for directing American Idiot, which he also co-wrote with Green Day's Billie Joe Armstrong. His many Broadway credits include the Tony Award-winning musical Thoroughly Modern Millie, the Tony Award-winning revival of A View from the Bridge, the Tony Award-winning play Side Man, Triumph of Love, You're A Good Man Charlie Brown and last season's Everyday Rapture, among others.
On a Clear Day is a rare original musical that is not based on source material. It broke ground by dealing with paranormal and supernatural experience — past lives, reincarnation, ESP and the seemingly limitless power of the mind.
The musical originally opened on Broadway at the Mark Hellinger Theatre on Oct. 17, 1965, and starred Barbara Harris as Daisy Gamble, a chain-smoker who could hear phones before they ring and had the ability to make flowers grow before your eyes. John Cullum played Dr. Mark Bruckner. They both received Tony Award nominations for their performances, as did the score. In 1970, it was adapted into a film directed by Vincente Minnelli. Barbra Streisand played Daisy Gamble and Yves Montand was Dr. Mark Bruckner.
This new version of On a Clear Day had a developmental workshop at The Vineyard Theatre in the fall of 2009, and later received a series of concert readings as part of New York Stage and Film and Vassar's Powerhouse Theater season in the summer of 2010.
The full production, originally scheduled to debut at The Vineyard Theatre in February 2011, will now debut on Broadway in the fall of 2011. This summer, The Vineyard Theatre (108 E. 15th Street) "will produce a developmental process for the show that will culminate in a developmental lab production." Off-Broadway's Vineyard launched such works as Avenue Q, The Scottsboro Boys, the Pulitzer Prize-winning productions of Edward Albee's Three Tall Women and Paula Vogel's How I Learned To Drive, Tarell Alvin McCraney's Wig Out!, Adam Rapp's The Metal Children and most recently the acclaimed world premiere of Will Eno's Middletown.
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