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On A Clear Day You Can See Forever

Reviewed by Elizabeth Ahlfors


On A Clear Day You Can See Forever
Stephen Bogardus and Melissa Errico. Photo Carol Rosegg

Reviewed by Elizabeth Ahlfors 


On A Clear Day You Can See Forever was not a major Broadway hit in 1965. Trying again in 2011, a risky tweak did not pay off, even with Harry Connick, Jr. in a starring role. Yet, this musical about psychoanalysis, ESP and reincarnation is occasionally reincarnated on stage, not because of the wacky book by Alan Jay Lerner.  What stands out are Lerner's brainy lyrics and Burton Lane's glorious music, creating a melodic score that brightens the foggiest day. Add to this, Melissa Errico, Stephen Bogardus, John Curia in small snappy cast of singers and dancers, and there is good reason to head to the Irish Repertory Theatre for the show's latest revival.

Adapted and directed by Charlotte Moore, this rendition is smaller and tighter, fitting on the Irish Rep's refurbished intimate theater stage. Moore sets up the appeal by positioning the cast on the stairs leading to the balcony, singing the opening evocative title song and then running to the stage and getting into the story. Hint - suspend realism and stick with the fantasy and embrace the music.

Set in the 1960's, Errico (Finian's Rainbow, My Fair Lady) plays Daisy Gamble, a ditzy New Yorker living at the Barbizon Hotel for Women. Right now, she needs to stop smoking  so she can get a job, but her talents seem limited to ESP and inspiring plants to grow by singing to them. The zippy, "Hurry, It's Lovely Up Here," is a hum-along favorite.

To help solve Daisy's  dilemma, her friends suggest she visits psychoanalyst/hypnotist, Dr. Mark Bruckner, played by Stephen Bogardus (Falsettos). When he puts her under, he discovers that Daisy had a previous life as Melinda Welles, a refined 18th century London aristocrat in love with a philandering artist, Edward Moncrief, played by handsome tenor, John Cudia (Phantom of the Opera). Desperately trying to win her back, Moncrief joins Melinda in an impassioned duet , "She Wasn't You," but unforgiving, she flees her London husband and boards the doomed S.S. Bernard Cohn and drowns.  

While the plot flips from the 18th-century to the 20th, the songs juice up the emotions. Errico tends to explore a song's lyrics and intent rather than belt them out with overt drama. As the gabby Daisy, her New York accent comes and goes, but she does well  bringing out her character's vulnerability and comic flair.  When she realizes she loves Mark (but thinks he loves Melinda), she  delivers,  “What Did I Have That I Don’t Have?”  Eventually, Bogardus, shedding his slightly stiff demeanor, really loves Daisy and, in a overwrought physical and vocal star-crossed fervor, pleads to her, "Come Back to Me," a clever line song.

The vivacious supporting cast includes Florrie Bagel, William Bellamy, Rachel Coloff, Peyton Crim, Caitlin Gallogly, Matt Gibson, Daisy Hobbs and Craig Waletzko, all fine singers (no amplifications) and dancers with nimble choreography by Barry McNabb. The cast's swingy "Wait Till We're Sixty Five" on the roof of the Barbizon Hotel is a fun moment. A four-piece band directed by John Bell, does the job.

James Morgan's set and projections create a colorful fantasy of mid-6o's New York, including the roof of the Barbizon Hotel for Women, a doomed ship and TWA Airport Terminal.

By stressing the superb Lerner and Lane songbook rather than the screwy Lerner libretto, Charlotte Moore offers a musical major-league summer refreshment in an efficiently scaled down production.


On A Clear Day You Can See Forever

Irish Repertory Theatre
132-West 22 Street, New York, NY
Previews: June 15, 2018. Opening: June 28, 2018. Closing: Sept. 6, 2018
Running time: 2 hours, 15 min. One intermission.
Cast: With Florrie Bagel, William Bellamy, Stephen Bogardus, Rachel Coloff, Peyton Crim, John Cudia, Melissa Errico, Caitlin Gallogly, Matt Gibson, Daisy Hobbs, and Craig Waletzko.
Book and Lyrics: Alan Jay Lerner
Music: Burton Lane
Adapted and Directed: Charlotte Moore

Review by Elizabeth Ahlfors
July 2018

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