Michael Mayer's Plate Includes On a Clear Day, Flamingo Kid and Patty Griffin Musical

News   Michael Mayer's Plate Includes On a Clear Day, Flamingo Kid and Patty Griffin Musical
Director Michael Mayer, who brought Duncan Sheik and Steven Sater's musical, Spring Awakening, to potent life Off-Broadway, and has a feature film, "Flicka," coming out later this year, is juggling a number of developing stage projects.

On his wish list for several years is his own conception of a revised revival of Alan Jay Lerner and Burton Lane's 1965 Broadway musical, On a Clear Day You Can See Forever. The show would be set in present day and would include Burton and Lerner songs from the 1970 motion picture, which starred Barbra Streisand. Lerner's daughter, Liza Lerner, is participating in the project.

"We would really like to pursue that," Mayer told Playbill.com "It's been sitting in the box for a couple years. But I think it would benefit from a staging, this concept I have."

In 2002, New York Theatre Workshop invited Mayer to read the new version — script and lyrics, without music. Later in 2002, a full reading featured Laura Benanti and Daniel Evans, with Elizabeth Williams and Anita Waxman producing. Both readings were "extremely productive and instructive," Mayer said.

Since Clear Day is a musical about a charming young woman (named Daisy Gamble) who has paranormal powers — she's in touch with her past lives and can make flowers grow by talking to them — Mayer said the material (and his take on it) "isn't the sort of thing you'd want to do in commercial way. It's a nonprofit idea."

What about a not-for-profit like Roundabout Theatre Company, where he is an artistic associate and for which he staged Side Man, An Almost Holy Picture and After the Fall? "I would love to see Clear Day happen there," he admitted. "Recently, Liza Lerner and I have been talking to [artistic director] Todd Haimes about possibly re-igniting the engine at the Roundabout."

In addition to Clear Day, Mayer is the director of the developing musical The Flamingo Kid, with music by Henry Krieger (Dreamgirls), lyrics by Susan Birkenhead (Triumph of Love, High Society, Jelly's Last Jam) and book by Jim Magruder (Triumph of Love). There's an early draft of the show written, he said. No production timeline has been announced by producers Ira Pittelman and Robyn Goodman.

Mayer is working on another project with Spring Awakening producer Tom Hulce. Mayer called Hulce "a savior" to the current Off-Broadway production of Spring Awakening.

"He sort of rescued Spring Awakening from almost oblivion by suggesting that we do the [2005] Lincoln Center [American Songbook] concert," Mayer said. "He was a great help in putting that together. It was that concert that got the Atlantic [Theater Company] all excited."

The Atlantic run of Spring Awakening has been extended to Aug. 6.

What is the new Mayer-Hulce project? An untitled musical with music and lyrics by folky Patty Griffin and book by Keith Bunin (whose The Credeaux Canvas Mayer directed for Playwrights Horizons).

As previously reported on Playbill.com, the musical concerns the story of "Duane and Molly's road trip in a beat-up Chevy truck, from the southernmost tip of Florida to the northernmost corner of New York, with plenty of unexpected detours along the way."

Griffin has released five albums, including "Impossible Dream," "Living With Ghosts" and "1000 Kisses." The Dixie Chicks recorded her songs "Truth #2" and "Top of the World." Playwright Bunin has penned The World Over, The Principality Of Sorrows and The King of Clocks and the current production at Playwrights Horizons, The Busy World Is Hushed.


Clear Day You Can See Forever is widely considered to have a dream of a score and a problematic book (by the late Lerner, who also penned the lyrics).

"It's a heavenly score," Mayer previously told Playbill.com. A 280-performance disappointment that starred John Cullum and Barbara Harris, the show nevertheless produced a cast album, inspired a film and has achieved a cult status. Vincente Minnelli directed the movie, which has Streisand as quirky Daisy and Yves Montand as a shrink who has difficulty believing there is more to her than science could explain.

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. The score includes "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." The film also has the additional songs "Love With All the Trimmings" and "Go to Sleep," the latter a unique counterpoint duet Daisy sings with herself.

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

Robert Lewis directed the original Broadway production. An early title for the project was I Picked a Daisy.

Lerner and Lane's other major project was the Fred Astaire movie musical, "Royal Wedding." They also wrote the score to the Broadway flop Carmelina.

For more information about Spring Awakening, visit www.atlantictheater.org.

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