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On A Clear Day You Can See Forever

Melissa Errico                photos by Carol Rosegg


                                                    By Eugene Paul


Some years ago, a mysteriously wise lady of serious years told me that most assuredly in another life I had been a Chinese sage of equally mysterious wisdom. After she laid out her evidence I was not about to disagree. Famed lyricist, Alan Jay Lerner, who has another of his hits, My Fair Lady, running right now at least on Broadway if not elsewhere in this world, was up to his ears in the esoterics of reincarnation which gave birth to this exasperatingly troubled, enchanting musical which hasn’t had a restful day since it was born. In this reincarnation, midwifed by Irish Rep director Charlotte Moore, it is at its most plausible, and maybe, even most charming, Burton Lane’s music freshly delightful, Lerner’s book  reworked to  smiling reasonableness, his lyrics as sparkling as ever.


Daisy Gamble (winning Melissa Errico) can make plants grow faster – you just sing the lovely  “Hurry, It’s Lovely Up Here” -- knows when the phone is going to ring,  finds slightly lost things but just can’t get a job because she smokes too much. (In this newly healthier version of director Moore’s, in the 1960’s you needed to stop smoking.) Everybody’s doing it.  Stopping, that is. But it takes all of Daisy’s friends to hustle reluctant Daisy over to Dr. Mark Bruckner (intense Stephen Bogardus) a whiz at hypnotizing anybody in Melissa’ plight to quit.


Melissa Errico and Stephen Bogardus



Watching while friend Janie (Caitlin Gallogly) is hypnotized, Daisy, to everyone’s surprise, falls under the same spell. And Dr. Bruckner, dry, spare, Dr. Bruckner, becomes excitedly alive, because Daisy, in her hypnosis, has turned into Melinda Welles, living in the eighteenth century. This is not just hypnosis, this is reincarnation, and nobody in oh so smart 1960’s believes in reincarnation except nut cases. Dr. Bruckner, let’s just call him Mark, has the discovery of a lifetime, of two lifetimes, right there in his office.  He has to study, study, study Daisy.  Who is quite amenable.  Mark may be a bit older but he’s easy on the eyes, even in his careless, tweedy attire.



John Cudia and Melissa Errico 


We are whisked into 18th century London as wealthy Daisy/Melinda is having her portrait painted by swooningly romantic, impoverished Edward Moncrief, (swooningly romantic John Cudia). She is so intoxicated with his, well, everything, she proposes.  Edward readily agrees to marry Melinda but it isn’t long before Melinda finds out he’s not only painting the portraits of all the belles in London, he’s also ringing them.


All of these heart wrenching details are captured on Dr. Mark’s tape recorder for his reincarnation study, with Daisy none the wiser under hypnosis, while we are spellbound by the lovely Lane and Lerner score delivered so enthusiastically, without electronic boosts.  Bravo. Bravo. Bravo. Until Daisy, in love with Mark, mooning about his office, accidentally flips a switch on his recorder and hears herself sounding strange.  Sounding like Melissa. And realizing that Mark, her Dr. Mark, is completely taken with this Melissa, when all the time Daisy thought – well never mind what she thought.


Which leads to  at least two more knockout songs, lovesick, wretched Daisy singing  “What Did I Have That I Don’t Have”, jealous as heck over Melissa, her 18th century self who has dazzled her Dr. Mark. The other knockout song being “Come Back To Me”, Mark’s cry from the heart as he seeks his Daisy who has fled back to the rooftop of the Barbizon hotel for women. Not knowing where else to go. Of course, there are other 18th and 20th century confusions, but at this point, why not.



What’s paramount is the joy with which the entire company seems to be experiencing as they vie to outshine each other as director Moore makes capital of that bubbling asset, especially when it burbles into the breakout songs.  Melissa Errico’s Daisy is one of her major achievements and standout Stephen Bogardus, impeccable in gesture, profile and voice would be giving her more than a run for the money if there weren’t a haunted shadow in the pit of his performance, his joy not matching the others. John Cudia, as Melinda’s flagrantly unfaithful spouse makes a definite impression.


Musical director John Bell has to be proud of his achievement with this show and this company. James Morgan’s scenic design works splendidly with Ryan Belock’s projection designs and Whitney Locher’s costume designs contrast beautifully against each other, lovely 18th century , not so lovely 20th. I bet choreographer Barry McNabb wishes the stage were more generous for his dancers. So do we.


On A Clear Day You Can See Forever. At the Irish Repertory Theatre, 132 West 22nd Street. Tickets: $50-$70. 212-727-2737. 2 hrs 15 min. thru Aug 12.