There's no denying it now, it's going to be a long hot summer. We have major political and social unrest, we have a deeply divided country and we have heat and humidity to break the thermostat, so what's a New Yorker gotta do to find a little comic relief around here?

Get down to The Irish Repertory theatre and catch a golden age musical, that's what you gotta do. On A Clear Day You Can See Forever powers its way like a turbine generator through two hours of life affirming fun.

Melissa Errico

Melissa Errico

Directed by Charlotte Moore, the show's other nuclear engines are its two gifted leads, Melissa Errico and Stephen Bogardus, who bring the smarts and the Broadway belting.

Errico is ideally cast as both Daisy Gamble and Melinda Welles. Yes, that's two characters and yes she plays them back to back. It's all thanks to the kooky plot. After an impulsive visit to a hypnotist to cure her smoking habit, working girl Daisy unexpectedly reveals that she is in fact the reincarnation of an 18 century Englishwoman of means who may have died in a shipwreck.

Before she died Melinda was a person of substance, and her dramatic story and her outlook on life and death are about as different from her current incarnation as its possible to get. No one knows this better than her startled hypnotist Dr. Mark Bruckner (Bogardus) who finds himself falling under her spell (or rather, Melinda's).

Stephen Bogardus and Melissa Errico in On A Clear Day You Can See Forever

Stephen Bogardus and Melissa Errico in On A Clear Day You Can See Forever

Yes, things get complicated pretty quickly. How on earth do you fall for someone who's been dead for at least 200 years? And is Melinda even real or just a fantasy projection from Daisy's subconscious? And should Dr. Bruckner be keeping her double identity from her, since she has no idea about her alter ego and could do without the competition, to be honest?

Errico is impressively different in the two roles. As Daisy she's a straight talking city dame, the kind considers your feelings but lays it out to you just the same, the kind that anyone would fall for. Daisy cracks wise but lacks real confidence in herself, because she's been on the short end of the stick once too often and yet she keeps on bouncing back for more.

Errico mines the rich humor and pathos in the back and forth's between Daisy and Dr. Bruckner, and she makes it incredibly hard to choose between her two personas, because both have serious charms.

It falls to Bogardus to make a Solomon-like judgement call between these two knockouts and most of the show makes it clear just how tough that call is going to be. As we get to know them we find that who they are at the core is truly special, so it's anyone's guess how it'll work out until the curtain call.

The other engine behind this delightful revival is the music itself. It's as if composer Burton Lane has distilled all the yearning of the immigrant experience into one remarkable song.

It's a song about finding a moment in time when you are free of who you were and who you will be, so that for one shining moment all the blinds go up in your life and your full story is reveled to you, as is your place in it.

Craig Waletzko, Melissa Errico, and William Bellamy in On A Clear Day You Can See Forever

Craig Waletzko, Melissa Errico, and William Bellamy in On A Clear Day You Can See Forever

So what makes On A Clear Day You Can See Forever so special, over and above the compelling central characters and the wonderfully diverting plot, is the heart stopping song in its title. It goes beyond a simple song lyric and attains the condition of lyric poetry almost. Oh, it depends on the accompaniment of music and song to achieve its full effect, but what it achieves feels weirdly timeless, because it's a speech from the heart.

Moore trusts the music and the performers to work their magic and Errico finds fine gold in her interpretations, so much so that this strange but captivating show has the power to pull you momentarily out of time, like a late Shakespeare play or like the unforgettable song at the center of this must-see show.

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