The Irish Rep has been on a Burton Lane kick and as the young people say, I am here for it.
Lane, if you don't already know, was the gifted composer of the classic musical Finian's Rainbow, a love song to Ireland and to twentieth century immigration sung by a nice Jewish boy from New York City.
Finian's Rainbow (which the Rep staged last year to widespread critical acclaim) was written in 1947 and had a for its time very progressive book by E.Y. Harburg and Fred Saidy, who pitted the spirited Irish and African American cast against a bigoted southern senator.
That same southern senator later announces, with an all too timely lack of self-awareness, “My family's been having nothing but trouble with immigrants ever since they come to this country!” He could be running for office now, sadly.
In an era where our Twitter feeds are filled to bursting with incidents of racism, anti-immigrant sentiment and bluntly bigoted speeches by the powerful targeting the most vulnerable among us, the Rep's production was a much needed tonic that reminded you of the great values of the greatest generation.
This week the Rep is staging Burton's later in life offering, On A Clear Day You Can See Forever, with Broadway belter Melissa Erico once again taking on the lead in a show that promises to knock your socks off.The story is crackers, but that only adds to its loopy charm. Daisy Gamble (Errico) is a woman of remarkable talents, when she sings the flowers bloom, she knows who's going to call you before they even pick up the phone, and she always knows where you’ve lost your keys, all remarkable gifts in and of themselves.
But when her desire to give up smoking leads her to hypnotherapist Dr. Mark Bruckner, a psychiatrist who can help guide her out of her addiction, Dr. Bruckner discovers the case - and possibly the love - of his life as he accidentally discovers Daisy’s past life as a snooty 18th century British aristocrat named Melinda Welles.
As Dr. Bruckner becomes increasingly infatuated with Melinda he is forced to helplessly watch her relive her great love affair with the long dead Edward Moncrief, which ends in tragedy. It's only after Dr. Bruckner decides to publish his dramatic findings that Daisy finally realizes she’s been his unwitting meal ticket all along.
On A Clear Day is all about about allowing yourself to live an authentic life, offering a hopeful vision of the future in an era when all of that hope is being daily snatched away from us by the news cycle.
Lane’s show, written with Alan Jay Lerner, has been newly adapted by Director Charlotte Moore, who clearly understands the power of music and theatre to affect hearts and minds.
The cast includes heavy hitters from on and off Broadway, including fellow lead Stephen Bogardus as Dr. Bruckner, with John Cudia, Florrie Bagel, William Bellamy Rachel Coloff, Peyton Crim, Caitlin Gallogly, Matt Gibson, Daisy Hobbs and Craig Waletzko rounding out the chorus.
Last year The Rep spun Leprechaun magic out of Burton Lane's biggest hit show, allowing its themes of immigration in the face of hostility and principle responding to ignorance tell its own tale to our own time.
This show has block buster written all over it so do yourself a favor and grab some tickets before the estatic reviews come out and make that impossible. On A Clear Day you can get back in touch with your best self and shows like this one make that task so much easier. Get your tickets now. Thank me later.
For tickets call the Irish Rep box office at 212-727-2737.