Wednesday August 23rd 2017

“On A Clear Day You Can See Forever”

Highly Recommended **** Many Chicago theater-goers know that Porchlight Music Theatre Company has been presenting short productions that revisit musicals of the past. These are for the most part musicals that have not been produced in the area for many years, and for me, seeing (and hearing the music from )these treasures of my youth is a true evening of entertainment. The series is called “Porchlight Revisits” and is done as a staged reading concert, on the same set that their regular production is playing on. In this case, the regular production is the amazing “Marry Me A Little” (thru May 21st) which you should also try to find a way to see.

The show they are doing on the revisit is “On A Clear Day You Can See Forever” a charming little love story with a book and lyrics  by Alan Jay Lerner and music by Burton Lane. The musical is based on a book by John L. Balderstorm and tells the story of a young lady who is “gifted” and her meeting with a hypnotist , after which both of their worlds change. One of the charming parts of this series is that Artistic Director Michael Weber does a slide show and history of the writers, directors, actors and music prior to the start. For 25 minutes, we are educated and a true theater person finds this to be worth the price of the tickets on its own, but Weber and his staff do much more.

The revisits are on “off nights” of Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, starting at 7:15, with a break and then the show begins at 8 with the second act starting at 9 p.m.. It is considered a staged concert reading, and yes, the actors are carrying scripts, but seldom do they use it as they bring their characters to life.Again, we are on the set of a current production, allowing director Lili-Anne Brown many restrictions in her work. She handles it splendidly.

The show goes back to 1965 and was nominated for several Tony Awards. Our leading lady,Daisy ( the lovely Sharriese Hamilton) wants to quit smoking and goes to a group hypnotist, Dr. Mark Bruckner (deftly handled by Karl Hamilton) who thru his treatment finds that Daisy may also be another woman, Melinda (from one hundred years ago). We then delve into the possibility of her “powers of seeing and hearing things before they happen” are part of her re-incarnation. During these sessions, the good doctor falls in love with the patient. The play did have a revival back in 2011 on Broadway, starring Chicago’s own Jessie Mueller, where she was nominated for a Tony.

The musical numbers are not ones that can be taken out of the show with ease but there are several numbers that are powerful. “Melinda”, “On A Clear Day”, “What Did I Have That I don’t Have” and “Come Back To Me” are standouts as well as the very cutesy “When I’m Being Born Again” as performed by Vasily Derris as Themistocles Kriakos. The ensemble member are Curtis Bannister, Patrick Byrnes, Khaki Pizley, Robert Quintanilla, Nancy Kolton, Greg Zawada and of course Mr. Derris. A splendid cast of characters taking me back into time for a show that I still find a treasure. Special note on the musicians . Under the direction of Andrea Velis Simon, it rocks!

Again, this production only has a life of two more nights, but pay attention to what is happening at Porchlight. I suggest you sign up for their mailings and prompts so you never miss one of these opportunities again. I believe coming revisits are: “Woman of the Year”  November, “They’re Playing Our Song” March of 2018 and “Do Re Mi” may of 2018. By the way, they are moving from Stage 773 to Ruth Page Center For The Arts at 1016 N. Dearborn in the Gold Coast.To keep up with them, visit http://www.porchlightMusicTheatre.org.org or call773-777-9884. They are still at Stage 773 at 1225 West Belmont until the fall

To see what others are saying, visit www.theatreinchicago.com, go to Review Round-Up and click at “On A Clear Day You Can See Forever

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