A revival of the musical On A Clear Day You Can See Forever is coming to Broadway this fall, although this one will be with a major twist. But first, the original, which was made into a 1970 film starring Barbara Streisand & Yves Montand, directed by Vincente Minnelli, made its Broadway debut in 1965, and centers on a psychiatrist (male) who hypnotizes a florist (female) in an effort to help her quit smoking; but during the hypnosis, the woman reveals an alternate, former version of herself, as a late 18th century free-spirited English woman. After repeated sessions, the shrink starts to fall for this alternate character, revealed only while the florist is under hypnosis, and who mayor may not exist. And to further complicate matters, the florist, as herself, starts to fall for the shrink. Make sense?
Of course, hi-jinx and hilarity ensue.
Now the twist here is that, in the upcoming Broadway revival, a contemporary version, the florist will be male instead of female, and the alternate/former self he reveals to the shrink under hypnosis, and who the shrink gradually falls for, will be “a dazzling and self-possessed 1940s jazz singer named Melinda Wells.” Oh, by the way, she’s black.
And like the original production, the doctor “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 read that this reimagined version was workshopped at Vassar’s Powerhouse Theater last summer, and the role of Melinda Wells, the dazzling and self-possessed 1940s jazz singer,was played by Anika Noni Rose (For Colored Girls, Dreamgirls).
For the upcoming Broadway version, the role of the psychiatrist has already been cast - Harry Connick Jr - but the fictitious (or is she?) black woman he falls for and pursues, who’ll play opposite Connick, has yet to be. No word on who’s on the short list, though I’d imagine Rose would be; but what do I know.
The New York Post’s theater section suggests Montego Glover (also a black stage actress, last seen in Memphis, where she coincidentally played a character in a complex, complicated interracial coupling) for the role.
Anywho… an interesting twist on the story that I thought worth highlighting. We could see another black Hollywood actress heading to Broadway this fall (Angela Bassett and Samuel L. Jackson are already signed on to star in Katori Hall’s The Mountaintop).
And a film adaptation isn’t entirely out of the question, is it?