“He told me once, ‘I don’t give advice,'” says Broadway newbie Jessie Mueller about her costar in Broadway’s upcoming revival of On a Clear Day You Can See Forever, Harry Connick, Jr. “But I’ve learned from the way he handles himself. He’s very funny. And as you can see in the photo, we’re having a really good time. Somebody cracked some joke and we just lost it.”
It’s a good to have a sense of humor, especially when you’re updating a classic. In this re-imagined version of Burton Lane and Alan Jay Lerner’s 1965 musical comedy, Connick plays widower Dr. Mark Bruckner, a therapist in the 1970s who’s struggling to get over his wife’s death. One day while hypnotizing a patient, he inadvertently releases that patient’s past life, a sultry, swinging, life-loving 1940s jazz singer named Melinda Wells (Mueller). “The doctor falls in love with the past life,” explains Mueller, “while the patient falls in love with the doctor. In the original, the patient was a woman and the past life was a woman. Now, in this version, the past life is still a woman, but the patient is a young gay man (David Turner). The love triangle is a lot more complicated with the gender bending that’s going on.”
It’s also a lot more musical. Most of Mueller’s numbers in the revised score are jazzy, big-band pieces from another Lerner and Lane musical, Royal Wedding, while Connick’s run the gamut from ballads to boisterous (yes, there will be hip shaking). “Harry’s character is really a little stuck. Melinda represents living life with your eyes open and your heart open. It’s going to be really fun for the audience to watch him open up again.”
On a Clear Day You Can See Forever begins previews Nov. 12 at the St. James Theatre. The play officially opens Dec. 11.