Errico photos by Carol Rosegg
By Eugene Paul
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.
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
Melissa Errico and Stephen Bogardus
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.