Sunday, January 1, 2012


Dr. Mark Bruckner (Harry Connick, Jr.) approaches the lip of the stage introducing himself to the 1974 Annual Winter Meetings of the American Psychoanalytic Association about his unusual case. “The subject”, he says, “is a 29 year old homosexual male who lives in a rental apartment in Greenwich Village, and works as an assistant in a neighborhood flower shop”. The doctor also tells us that the story isn’t only about the patient but what happened to him, an experience which transformed his way of thinking about time, love, death and big band music.

On A Clear Day You Can See Forever recently opened on Broadway as being a “newly imagined production”. I had not seen the original Broadway version (which I understood ran a total of 280 performances in 1965) or the movie that starred Barbra Streisand.

Here’s the thing. Bruckner teaches a class on hypnosis. One of his students, Muriel (Sarah Stiles) brings her best friend, David (David Turner), who is trying to quit his five-pack-a day cigarette habit. David is quite susceptible to hypnosis as well as being undecided about whether he should move in with Warren (Drew Gehling), boyfriend and lawyer.

During the hypnosis David begins talking and singing like a woman. This woman, Melinda (Jessie Mueller) was a singer in the 1940’s and dead. Nevertheless, the doc, who seems to be still mourning his wife, falls in love with her. So, he is communicating with David’s past life while David is under hypnosis. I hope you’re still with me on this.

In stage reality, the doc is falling in love with David although you do see Melinda’s life. In fact, each time David is awakened he gets the feeling that the doc is falling in love with him, which makes it more complicated regarding his beau.

Let’s now get to the nitty gritty of it all with what irks me. The draw is Harry Connick, Jr. Yes, he is charming, handsome and is a fabulous singer. If you enjoy watching a piece of wood, then you’ll appreciate his one note expressions. I know that there would not have been a homosexual character on stage in 1965 and frankly, it doesn’t really work, considering that the lead is supposed to be an intelligent shrink. I have noticed many Broadway shows sporting a token gay male (hardly ever a lesbian). Are we still with the stereotype gay male/Broadway musical? Is this in hopes to draw out the gay community who will hear that act one ends with Harry Connick, Jr. kissing “a boy”?

On the positive side, it may be worth it to experience Jessie Mueller and David Turner. Mueller, who is making her Broadway debut, far surpasses the acting ability and, I’m afraid, singing ability of Connick. In case the show doesn’t do well I hope that Mueller will come back to us.

The three recognizable songs. “Come Back To Me” (sung by Connick and Gehling) showed off Gehling’s talent. “What Did I Have That I Don’t Have” and “On A Clear Day”, were the other two. Loved the rest of the score. Credit is given to Burton Lane for the music and Alan Jay Lerner for the lyrics. Small production with no elaborate production numbers. Good choreography. On A Clear Day You Can See Forever is a thumbs up and thumbs down for me.

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