DAVID NEEDS TO QUIT SMOKING AND HIS DOCTOR BRINGS “OUT” THE BEST IN HIM, AND SHE WILL IMPRESS YOU.
‘ON CLEAR DAY YOU CAN SEE FOREVER’
THE BEST WAY TO START PRIDE 2016
The florist shop is open at the New Conservatory Theatre Center as they end their successful 34th season with the West Coast premiere of a charming restaging of ON CLEAR DAY YOU CAN SEE FOREVER now on stage through June 12th. The memorable American musical with music by Burton Lane, lyrics by Alan Jay Lerner, with a new book by Peter Parnell, including tunes from Lane and Lerner's score for the film Royal Wedding. This New York florist shop is now run by a gay man with relationship issues, a bit different from the original based on a woman named Daisy. The enchanting new look at this 60’s musical could be your typical musical comedy – about hypnosis, commitment issues, a love triangle with a therapist, and a past life as a 1940s jazz singer. CLEAR DAY first opened in 1965 to mixed reviews and a short run on Broadway and featured Barbara Harris who heard phones ring before they rang and made flowers grow before your eyes. Barbra Streisand starred in the 1970 film version, and made the title song an icon of that era.
Parnell’s new script replaces Daisy with David, a gay florist whose psychiatrist, widower, Dr. Mark Bruckner, discovers that David's past life was as Melinda, a 1940s jazz singer. Director Ed Decker has assembled an adequate cast and music direction under the excellent Mathew Lee Cannon. This current rewrite of ON A CLEAR DAY was workshopped at New York's The Vineyard Theatre in 2011 featuring Harry Connick Jr.; it was not received well. This current new script still includes Lane and Lerner's original score including "On the S.S. Bernard Cohn", "Melinda," and the title song. But some of the more period songs were cut. The talented, campy at times, Chris Morrell is David the florist who doesn’t always command the stage, but has great comic timing as the gay lead who wants to stop smoking. Morrell opens the first act with “Hurry! It's Lovely up Here” and sets the tone for the evening.
David is distant with his boyfriend Warren played by the charming Kevin Singer. “Love With All The Trimmings” is a highlight in the first act sung superbly by Singer. David has no desire to commit to Warren, his flowers give him more company. In an effort to give up smoking, David seeks a psychiatrist and hypnotherapist, Dr. Mark Bruckner, played by the dapper and elegant William Giammona. The Doctor sings “She Isn’t You” and Giammona’s beautiful baritone voice rings through the Ed Decker theatre. When Dr. Brucker takes Dave on his first journey into his dreams who emerges is Melinda, a 1946 jazz singer played by the excellent Melissa O’Keefe. The relation with the three is very predictable, David falls for his shrink and he falls for David who is really the 40’s Jazz singer, Melinda. The threesome sing “On The S.S. Bernard Chon” and the three way novela ghost love story begins.
ON A CLEAR DAY YOU CAN SEE FOREVER, is a charming tale of love and dreams. Decker's outstanding staging lets the story move between the 1940s and 1970s flashbacks with serenity. The talented ensemble keeps the show moving with some wonderful company numbers including “Opening Your Eye’s Mark” and the classic closing number “On a Clear Day You Can See Forever”. Rewriting the original character Daisy into a diva of a male makes an engaging romp of romance and past life storytelling. I do feel the script is a bit predictable, and David's classic “I am gay” kick back lines can get a bit tiresome, but his relation with Warren gets better and works in the end. The orchestra is built into Kuo-Hao Lo backlit art deco set streamlines with neon lighting by Christian V. Mejia. The set is one of the highlights of this production, and Ben Prince’s music arrangements crowned by Cannon’s four piece orchestra with a rich classy blend and an accomplished sound from the ensemble cast. James Ard’s sound design kept each of the leads on cue and Wes Crain’s costumes combine the 40’s and bright 70’s colors. The "Bernard Cohn" song is a busy dance number, choreographed by Jayne Zaban, and her company closing number of the title hit is splendid.
This is the first retake of the musical since 2011 when it took a dive in NY, but I get the feeling this is a better produced version. ON A CLEAR DAY is the perfect musical to start your summer, the show is silly at times but has heart. With song and dance, you will be hypnotized with David and return to 70’s New York, and deeper to the 40’s Jazz days. This fall NCTC will celebrate its 35th season with a stunning list of musicals and plays including Harvey Fierstein's new work CASA VALENTINA. In the meantime open Pride 2016 with a charming evening at the New Conservatory and see ON A CLEAR DAY.
NEW CONSERVATORY THEATRE COMPANY PRESENTS
ON A CLEAR DAY YOU CAN SEE FOREVER
Music by Burton Lane Lyrics
and Alan Jay Lerner
New Book by Peter Parnell
Based on the original book by Alan Jay Lerner
Directed by Ed Decker, Musical Direction by Matthew Lee Cannon
Instrument Arrangements by Ben Prince
Choreography by Jayne Zaban
Through June 12th
New Conservatory Theatre Center
25 Van Ness Ave @ Market St, San Francisco, CA 94102
Tickets at http://www.nctcsf.org/
Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/nctcsf/?fref=ts
Photos by Lois Tema