Alysha Umphress Steps Into "Melinda" Role in On a Clear Day Concert

News   Alysha Umphress Steps Into "Melinda" Role in On a Clear Day Concert
Due to a family emergency, Tony Award winner Anika Noni Rose was unable to participate in the July 30 Vassar concert reading of On a Clear Day You Can See Forever.

Alysha Umphress
Alysha Umphress

Alysha Umphress stepped in and performed the role of Melinda Wells, according to a Vassar spokesperson. As of Saturday morning, it was not clear if Rose would return for the two sold-out performances Aug. 1. No public performances were scheduled for July 31.


As previously reported, On a Clear Day You Can See Forever, the 1965 musical with a reincarnation plot and a handful of beloved Alan Jay Lerner-Burton Lane songs, is getting a second life July 29-Aug. 1 in Poughkeepsie, NY.

The starry — and sold-out — Vassar College and New York Stage & Film's Powerhouse Theater concert of a fresh take on the material prefigures a 2011 Off-Broadway run.

Tony Award-winning director Michael Mayer (Spring Awakening) conceived and directs this revision of the property about a shrink whose patient, quirky Daisy Gamble, has paranormal powers — and past lives. Peter Parnell (QED, The Cider House Rules) wrote the new libretto, inspired by Lerner's original. The new conceivers tamper with gender in the rewrite, the concert version of which stars Tony nominee Brian d'Arcy James (Shrek, Time Stands Still) and Tony winner Anika Noni Rose (Caroline, or Change). Mayer (Spring Awakening, American Idiot, Everyday Rapture) has kept mostly mum about the changes in the tale, but gender and sexuality issues are now apparently a part of the love story. [Spoiler alert here.] An earlier draft of Mayer's version had the psychoanalyst character treating a gay man and uncovering the patient's past life — a woman. The doctor falls for the past incarnation, causing comic and romantic confusion, all wrapped in rich show music.

Answering an email inquiry about the rewrite, Mayer told on July 5, "I can't really discuss all the new writing on Clear Day, as we're still very much in process. I can say that the basic construct of the original story is the same, but the rest of it is being explored in new ways."

The Vassar concert of the romantic musical comedy also features David Turner (Williamstown's Forum), Kerry O'Malley (Irving Berlin's White Christmas on tour), Colin Hanlon, Sarah Stiles (...Spelling Be), Heather Ayers, Saum Eskandani, Constantine Germanacos, Kendal Hartse, Paul O'Brien, Zach Prince and Lori Wilner.

Music is by Lane and lyrics are by Lerner. Lawrence Yurman is musical director and arranger, and JoAnn Hunter is choreographer.

After the concert presentation this summer, this On a Clear Day You Can See Forever will find another life — in a full production — at Off-Broadway's Vineyard Theatre in early 2011. Casting for Off-Broadway has not been announced.

The score is a favorite of show-music fans for its alternately plucky and lush numbers, including "Come Back to Me," "Melinda," "Hurry! It's Lovely Up Here," "On the S.S. Bernard Cohn," "Tosy and Cosh," "Don't Tamper With My Sister," "She Wasn't You," "Wait 'Til We're Sixty-Five," "When I'm Being Born Again." A film version that starred Barbra Streisand served up freshly written numbers: "Love With All the Trimmings" and "Go to Sleep," the latter a unique counterpoint duet Daisy sings with herself. The songs being used in the new version have not been announced.

The estates of the authors have agreed to the new production. A 280-performance disappointment, On a Clear Day originally starred John Cullum and Barbara Harris. It was a rare original American musical that was not based on source material. A cast album preserved the score. The title song has become well-known, and the lament "What Did I Have That I Don't Have" is a favorite for cabaret divas.

Lerner and Lane also wrote the score to the M-G-M film "Royal Wedding."

In February 2000 Encores! presented a concert revival of On a Clear Day… starring Tony winner Kristin Chenoweth and Peter Friedman, with Brent Barrett as a lover from one of Daisy's many past lives.

The Vassar performance dates and times are July 29 and 30 at 8 PM, Aug. 1 at 2 and 7 PM.

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