One of the RSS feeds that I read is Playbill News. One of the items that came across today was a notice about Harry Connick Jr. starring in a revised revival of the musical “On A Clear Day You Can See Forever“. This was a 1970s musical that was moderately successful, and spawned a Barbra Streisand movie with Yves Montand. The plot of the original musical was summarized as follows (from Wikipedia):
Quirky Daisy Gamble sees herself as an unremarkable person and has low self-esteem, even though she can (1) make plants grow remarkably, (2) predict when a telephone will ring or someone will drop in, and (3) tell where to find an object that someone else is looking for. Her current problem, though, is her nasty smoking habit, which will interfere with the chances of her fiancé, Warren, for a job with great benefits. She seeks help from a psychiatrist, Dr. Mark Bruckner, to stop smoking. When he hypnotizes her, she describes living a previous life in late 18th century England as “Melinda Wells”, who died in her late twenties from circumstances beyond her control. Free spirited Melinda was in love with portrait painter Edward Moncrief. Mark keeps to himself what Daisy has revealed to him, and he tells her that she should not be ashamed of her ESP. At their next session, Daisy, under hypnosis, relates scenes from the salacious London Hellrakers’ Club where Melinda met Edward. Melinda and Edward eventually marry, but the painter is unfaithful to her, making love to his subjects. Mark, the psychiatrist, finds himself falling for “Melinda” and becomes convinced that Daisy is really the reincarnation of Melinda. Melinda finally left Edward and set sail for America, but the ship never reached Boston. Before Mark can save Melinda from shipwreck, Daisy wakes up.
Mark reports on the case to his fellow psychiatrists, who ridicule his findings. Greek shipping magnate Themistocles Kriakos learns of Mark’s belief in reincarnation and offers to finance a study of the events of Melinda’s life in exchange for Mark’s help in discovering who he will be in his next life, which will allow him to leave his fortune to his future self. Daisy accidentally discovers that she is the “Melinda” at the center of the growing controversy and that Mark prefers Melinda to herself. In her angry confrontation with the psychiatrist about the matter, she tells him that she is “through being a go-between for you and your dream girl. You’re not going to go on using my head for a motel.” Daisy goes to the airport, ready to return home. Her ESP powers warn her that the plane on which she plans to travel will crash. She realizes at last how special she really is. She leaves her starchy fiancé, and she and Mark unite to explore their extraordinary future.
Now, here’s the summary of the “revised” plot:
Love blooms in unexpected places in the delightfully reimagined world of On a Clear Day You Can See Forever. Still in love with his deceased wife, Dr. Mark Bruckner (Harry Connick, Jr.), a dashing psychiatrist and professor, unknowingly takes on the case of his life with David Gamble, a quirky young florists’ assistant. While putting David under hypnosis to help him quit smoking so he can move in with his perfect boyfriend Warren, Dr. Bruckner stumbles upon what he believes to be David’s former self — a dazzling and self-possessed 1940s jazz singer Melinda Wells. Instantly intrigued by Melinda, Dr. Bruckner finds himself swept up in the pursuit of an irresistible (and impossible) love affair with this woman from another time and place, who may or may not have ever existed.
I think I’ve got whiplash from the changes. Daisy becomes David. A late 18th century woman becomes a 1940s jazz singer off a different sex from the present day person. The doctor is in love with the past person, but not the present person as well. They are adding songs from the film score (OK), such as ‘Love With All The Trimmings’ and ‘Go To Sleep’, but also adding songs from the Lerner and Lane score for the film ‘Royal Wedding’ such as ‘Ev’ry Night at Seven,’ ‘You’re All the World to Me,’ ‘Open Your Eyes’ and ‘Too Late Now’.
Somehow, I’m not sure about this revival. I’m not sure how the original authors would take to the quirky young florists’ assistant, David Gamble. I just can’t see a good reason for that particular change, unless the thinking is that you can’t be successful on Broadway without a gay element somewhere. Wrong. You can’t be successful on Broadway without a good book.