On A Clear Day... With Harry Connick, Jr: My Review

Categories: Theater

Harry Connick On a Clear Day.png

Sexual reassignment surgery has gone on at On a Clear Day You Can See Forever, the 1965 Alan Jay Lerner/Burton Lane musical about a gal with ESP whose grief-stricken psychiatrist is obsessed with the gal's past-life persona, Melinda.

In this version -- with a rethought book by Peter Parnell and director Michael Mayer -- the gal is now a gay male florist named David (David Turner).

So when the doc (honey-throated Harry Connick Jr) becomes smitten with David's inner Melinda (who's now a '40s jazz singer played by Jessie Mueller), it's extra twisty that David responds by getting wild about Harry.

That's not all that's different.

In aiming for nowness, the show manages to be both bigger and smaller than the original.

By interpolating more songs than they've dropped, this Day boasts 25 numbers (including reprises) instead of the original's 14.

And the ESP is gone, presumably to give things some verisimilitude.

Alas, the awful sets -- mostly checkerboard trellises -- are cartoony and distancing enough to have the opposite effect, not allowing you the freedom to really believe in the wacky goings-on.

What's more, they're chintzy, the '40s getting summoned by just four microphones, a piano, and a riser!

It doesn't help that Act One has too many songs and jokes that don't land (though a dance trio for the doc, his patient, and the past-life lady is deftly amusingly).

But in a new trend for offbeat love musicals (see Bonnie and Clyde -- all right, don't), this one improves after intermission, developing some weight, along with some superior show tunes.

The show's three big numbers are stacked up practically in a row toward the end. It's almost like a Mamma Mia! mixtape medley.

By the end, you've become intrigued enough by the sexuality complications stemming from the Doctor/David dynamic to almost forget the relative jumble that preceded it.

Connick is especially touching as he's forced to confront the death of his various lady loves and move on.

And while Turner and Mueller (who occasionally seems to be channeling Liza Minnelli in New York, New York) can't approximate the star power of the original's Barbara Harris, they're basically appealing.

On a Clear Day is a mixed bag of gems and groaners that might have you longing for it's own past life, but when it finally attains clarity, it can be a lilting reminder of the allure of the unavailable.



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14 comments
Southern Dave
Southern Dave

If Connick ended up with the florist, maybe it would be more interesting.

But he's got his image to protect, which ironically will not be helped by what appears to be a dud just waiting for the hook.

Didn't he turn down the Gershwin pastiche for this?

Musto
Musto

Yes, I forgot to mention that that action is moved to the 1970s. The op art sets are truly atrocious.

MSpeer
MSpeer

25 numbers instead of 14? 1974 instead of 1965? Major character and plot revises? Why bother to do the show at all since it only vaguely seems to resemble the original? Jesus Christ, when does it end? Just to give Connick a vehicle and a song for his next album? Enough, already.

MartinNYID
MartinNYID

You managed 'verisimilitude' in a Broadway review. I love quirky train wrecks... Must be worth a ticket!

Yanksmmm
Yanksmmm

Great music, but this show sucks!!!   Please don't spend your money. Harry will get out of his contract real soon and go back to a concert tour where he shines.

bsomers
bsomers

Michael Mayer is a hack who owes his success to the decline in quality of theater today; and dropping the soap for the right people.  On A Clear Day has a fine score and middling book that was obvious in 1965 [starring the fab Harris] and in the 1970 film [starring the fab Streisand let down by a poor leading man and a director past his prime].  Instead of tastefully and sensitively rethinking the book, it has been hacked/reimagined to bits by a second-rate team.  Did the Lane and Lerner estates need the money that badly that they OK'd this project?  Give it three months and it will fade into oblivion.

Dierbela
Dierbela

Uh-oh. Ben Brantley says the show is "as much fun as an MRI." 

Musto
Musto

Yeah, Jessie Mueller has some creamy vocals.

Steve
Steve

I really enjoyed the show. I'm familiar with both the film and play,so I was worried about the changes too, but I thought it worked. I felt Jessie Mueller was the real breakout star here. There were a handful or more of us gay men waiting for her at the stage door and just gushed over her. She was very pleasant and sweet about our admiration of her. We too thought she had that Liza quality about her, but mixed in with a little Bette.

Musto
Musto

PS: The gay male character is given a boyfriend (played by the talented Drew Gehling), whom he has to come to appreciate. The show doesn't back down from fleshing out some gay romance, at least. They even kiss.

Luv
Luv

It sounds positively dreadful, but you made it sound almost OK.

Staunchy
Staunchy

Great review! You summed you the good and bad very fairly.

Steuben
Steuben

Yeah, but word on that one isn't great either.

mjm
mjm

"in the 1970 film [starring the fab Streisand let down by a poor leading man and a director past his prime"

more like leading man past his prime [Yves Montand, more famous today for his fling w/ Marilyn Monroe] and a director who's daughter was competition for Babs [Vincente Minnelli]

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