Past Reviews

Regional Reviews: San Francisco/North Bay


On a Clear Day You Can See Forever
New Conservatory Theatre Center
Review by Richard Connema | Season Schedule

Also see Patrick's reviews of West Side Story and Dancing at Lughnasa, Eddie's review of Grey Matter, and Richard's reviews of The Last Five Years, The Diplomats, and Red Velvet


William Giammona and Melissa O'Keefe
Photo by Lois Tema
The New Conservatory Theatre Center is presenting the West Coast premiere of the reimagined Burton Lane/Alan Jay Lerner 1965 musical On a Clear Day You Can See Forever. I saw the musical in 1965 at the Mark Hellinger Theatre in New York with John Cullum and Barbara Harris. Later in 1999 I reviewed the 42nd Street Moon production with Andrea Marcovicci as Daisy/Melinda and Michael DeVries as Dr. Bruckner.

The previous productions had Daisy as an insecure neurotic coming to see Dr. Bruckner, a psychiatrist, to help her stop smoking. She was repeatedly transformed through hypnosis into a glamourous English lady in the 18th century. The new, reimagined version has a gay young man, who works in the flower shop and can talk to flowers, coming to the doctor to stop smoking. His name is David and he goes through a complete body transformation to become a female while undergoing hypnosis, becoming Melinda, a 1946 jazz singer.

Some of Lane and Lerner's original score remains, including "On the S.S. Bernard Cohn", "Melinda," and the title song. The songs that were thrown out were mostly the 18th century songs. Songs with a 1940s flavor have been put into the score, including four from Lane and Lerner's score for the film Royal Wedding, and two songs that had been added to the 1970 Barbra Streisand film version of On a Clear Day.... I feel the surgery weakens the score from the original. Those who have never seen the original production or heard the score may like this new score and storyline.

This production, directed by Ed Decker, is most certainly a splendid one with wonderful talented singers. William Giammona is outstanding as Bruckner. With his pitch perfect vocal cords he is marvelous singing "Melinda" and "On a Clear Day You Can See Forever." Chris Morrell as David the patient is harmoniously energizing singing "Hurry! It's Lovely Up Here" to the flowers and he rocks singing "Wait 'Tll We're Sixty-five" and "On the S.S. Bernard Cohn" with his boyfriend, played by Kevin Singer who sings splendidly "Love With All the Trimmings." Melissa O'Keefe gives a dynamic performance as Melinda, with her mellifluous voice singing "Open Your Eyes" and "Every Night at Seven." Jessica Coker is pitch perfect as Sharon Stein, the doctor's secretary and nurse, while Audrey Baker gives a great performance as Muriel.

The large cast consisting of Scott Alexander Ayres, Stephen Kanaski, Julianna Lustenader, Christine Macomber, Pamela Sevilla, and Zac Schuman shine in their individual roles. They also provide great choral work in many of the numbers.

Ed Decker's direction is smooth while costume designer Wes Crain provides a great '40s style with the outfits. Choreography by Jayne Zaban, especially the "Bernard Cohn" number, is lively.

On a Clear Day You Can See Forever plays through June 12, 2016, at the Decker Theatre, 25 Van Ness Ave at Market Street, San Francisco. Tickets can be obtain by calling 415-861-8972 or online at www.nctscf.org.


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