Monday, December 26, 2011
DON WE NOW OUR GAY APPAREL
I could have titled this post “ON A QUEER DAY” – but that would be too easy.
Early last week I say the new revised production of ON A CLEAR DAY YOU CAN SEE FOREVER with Harry Connick Jr at the St James Theatre in NYC. As I previously mentioned – the new book turns Daisy Gamble into David Gamble, in a relationship with a less quirky Warren, although Melinda Wells remains a woman (but she is now a 1940’s jazz singer).
As also previously mentioned – OACD was my high school senior play, and I was in the chorus and had three minor roles, including a solo dance number.
Hey, Neil Patrick Harris, I thought you told us “Broadway is not just for gays anymore” at this year’s TONY Awards.
While giving Daisy a penis (which is awkward and totally unnecessary), the new book takes away the character’s ESP. This does not cause too many gaps, but it does make the doctor calling for Daisy/David to “Come Back to Me” from his office a bit silly. The opening “Hey Buds Below” number is now set in a florist shop as David “talks” to the flowers he is arranging, instead of as a demonstration of her “power” in the doctor’s office.
As I expected, the two songs from the Victorian England past life are gone – including the very witty “Don’t Tamper With My Sister”, the lyrics of which include the politician’s credo - “A sin is not a sin until a sin is seen” (“so let us misdemean where lights are low”). While I missed this song, I can live with the change in past life.
New songs, from Lerner and Lane’s movie ROYAL WEDDING and the Barbra Streisand movie adaptation of the musical, are added. Those added to facilitate the new past life fit in appropriately, as does a duet by David and his female roommate. But the “songlets” from the movie that are sung by Harry Connick Jr, like the sex change of the Daisy character, seem awkward and unnecessary.
The book is not updated to present day, but an extra decade is added on to accommodate the past life timeline.
While I will agree that there was a problem with the ending – in the original book Daisy leaves her fiancé Warren and she and the doctor “unite to explore their extraordinary future” – I do not recall there being much else wrong with the story or its development. The new book does good by making the doctor a widow who has not gotten over the untimely death of his wife, and fixes the ending (although it still needs a bit more tweak). And, as I said above, I can accept the change in past life, with the doctor interacting more with the “previous” Daisy/David.
The gratuitous gaiety, while totally unnecessary, is not, thankfully, offensive. The gay couple plays it, pardon the pun, straight. Neither one is overly “flamboyant”. And the Warren character works better as a “normal” beau, especially for the ending. The sex change does add a strange and comic undertone to the song “What Did I Have I Don’t Have Now”, although it is still powerful.
I do not like the removal of the sub-plot about a Greek shipping magnate funding the doctor’s research so he can find out who his next life will be and leave his fortune to him, singing “When I’m Being Born Again”. The song remains, but now is song by the doctor’s students.
So take away the penis, the plot device of using the story as a case study presentation at a psychiatry conference, the awkward songlets from the movie, return the ESP and the Greek, and keep the change in past life, the revised Warren, the new female colleague pining for the doctor, and the rewritten ending and you will have a great production.
The bottom line – I liked the current revival better than I thought I would. It certainly was not as bad as the reviews I read before seeing the show would lead you to believe. The actors are good and, of course, the score is great (which I already knew). HCJ was better in THE PAJAMA GAME, but is ok here.
Let us hope changing the sex of musical comedy characters does not become a trend. The last thing I would want to see is Miss Adelaide become Mr. Adelaide, and the Hot Box Dancers become an All Male Revue!