On a Clear Day You Can See Forever a gay pastiche that pleases at NCTC

Front: Melissa O’Keefe (Melinda), William Giammona (Mark); Center: Chris Morrell (David) with ensemble in On a Clear Day You Can See Forever at NCTC.

Front: Melissa O’Keefe (Melinda), William Giammona (Mark); Center: Chris Morrell (David) with ensemble in On a Clear Day You Can See Forever at NCTC.

On a Clear Day You Can See Forever: Musical Comedy. 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. New Conservatory Theatre Center (NCTC), Decker Theater, 25 Van Ness Ave @ Market St, San Francisco, CA 94102. 415-861-8972 or www.boxoffice@nctcsf.org.           May 13 – June 12, 2016.

On a Clear Day You Can See Forever a gay pastiche that pleases at NCTC Rating: ★★★★☆

The original version of the musical On a Clear Day You Can See Forever has been around since 1969. The Lane and Lerner music received great praise but it had not been very successful due to a clunky book. That book has been tampered with moving the time frame to different centuries without much success. A 1970 film adaptation directed by Vincente Minnelli starred Barbra Streisand, Yves Montand, and Jack Nicholson is now the standard by which the story is judged. Forget its past incarnations and bring an open mind to NCTC for a fun, often hilarious and sometimes touching production and be prepared for a two hour and 20 minute evening including the intermission.

The present version on display at the NCTC has a lot going for it despite the fact that it bombed on Broadway in 2011 ringing up only 57 performances. One of the major reasons for its failure was that super star Harry Connick was an inappropriate choice for the lead role. Consider that in the revised book by Peter Parnell the original heroine named Daisy has been converted to a gay florist David Gamble (great comic turns by tenor Chris Morrell). In his former life he was a female chanteuse named Melinda Wells (fine soprano voiced Melissa O’Keefe) who falls in love with his psychiatrist, widower Dr. Mark Bruckner (popular local actor and baritone William Giammona).

Consider the humorous entanglements that can occur when Mark hypnotizes the easily suggestible David and up pops seductive Melinda. Director Decker milks this implausibility to the nth degree especially since David is also in love with Mark and in one brief scene the audience erupts.

This rewrite starts out with Dr. Mark Bruckner being the narrator lecturing on his newly posited theory of reincarnation that is contrary to accepted psychiatric practice thus getting Mark in trouble with the powers that be. The secondary love story involves Warren’s (Kevin Singer) futile attempts to have David move in with him. The play moves between 1973 and 1943 and there are a number of references to the treatment of gays in those time frames. Do not despair since gay love triumphs.

The songs/score from the original show are winningly sung, staged and danced (choreography by Jayne Zaban) by the energetic cast that include, “Open Your Eyes”, “Melinda”, “Come Back to Me” and title song “On a Clear DayYou Can See Forever.”  Other songs have been lifted from the Streisand film and from Royal Wedding. The production numbers of “Wait ‘til We’re 65” and “On the S.S. Bernard Cohn” are almost show stoppers.

The entire show is handsomely staged within an Art Deco framed proscenium and a four piece on-stage band. Under Decker’s slick hand the pace is brisk or tender when necessary and he moves his 13 member cast, some who play multiple roles, with precision. The 1940s costumes by Wes Crain are spot on.

The show ends with narrator Mark tying up the loose ends after he and Warren telepathically bring back the departed David who was returning (would you believe) to his home town of Oneonta.  Recommend as a “should see” show.

CAST: Jessica Coker, Sharone Stein; William Giammona, Mark Bruckner; Chris Morrell, David Gamble; Melissa O’Keefe, Melinda Wells; Audrey Baker, Muriel; Kevin Singer, Warren; Megan Bartlett, Paula with (Ensemble)ScottAlexander Ayres; Stephen Kanaski, Juliana Lustenader; Christine Macomber, Zac Schuman, and Pamela Sevilla.

CREATIVE TEAM: Directed by Ed Decker; Scenic design by Kuo-Hao Lo; Costume design by Wes Crain; Lighting design by Christian V. Mejia; Sound design by James Ard; Prop design by Noah Kramer; Musical Direction by Matthew Lee Cannon. Instrument Arrangements by Ben Prince. Choreography by Jayne Zaban.

Kedar K. Adour, MD

Courtesy of www.theatreworldim2.com

 Front: Melissa O’Keefe (Melinda), William Giammona (Mark); Center: Chris Morrell (David) with ensemble in On a Clear Day You Can See Forever at NCTC. Photo by Lois Tema.