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NEW YORK – The current Broadway season claims its highest-profile casualty to date with the premature closing of On a Clear Day You Can See Forever, a major revival of the 1965 musical that stars Harry Connick Jr.
While Connick proved a major box office draw in the 2006 revival of The Pajama Game, his marquee clout was insufficient to overcome largely negative reviews for On a Clear Day. Since opening Dec. 11 at the St. James Theatre, the show has struggled to build audiences, even through the lucrative holiday weeks. The production will play its final performance Jan. 29, after 29 previews and 57 regular performances.
Directed and reconceived by Michael Mayer, who staged Spring Awakening and American Idiot on Broadway in recent seasons, the revival aimed to overhaul a traditionally problematic show.
The melodious Burton Lane–Alan Jay Lerner songs have always been widely loved. Less so Lerner’s clunky book, built around a love triangle in which one of the romantic targets is an incarnation from an earlier life. By switching the gender of a main character, Mayer and playwright Peter Parnell attempted to give the show a contemporary edge, but ended up making it more complicated.
The production’s early retreat creates a vacancy at the St. James for Leap of Faith, the musical adaptation of the 1992 Paramount film that starred Steve Martin as an evangelical con artist.
The stage version has music by Alan Menken, lyrics by Glenn Slater and book by Janus Cercone and Warren Leight, based on Cercone’s original screenplay. Raul Esparza takes on the lead role, with Christopher Ashley directing.
That production begins previews April 3, with opening to be set some time before the Tony Awards eligibility cutoff date of April 26.
The commercial failure of On a Clear Day adds to those of new musicals Bonnie & Clyde and Lysistrata Jones this season, as well as the early closing of Noel Coward revival Private Lives, with Kim Cattrall.
The traditionally grim downturn of the January-February box office is expected to bring a further round of closings in the coming weeks, including Relatively Speaking, the trio of one-act comedies by Woody Allen, Ethan Coen and Elaine May that also has announced a Jan. 29 end date.
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Taraji P. Henson