Tony-nominee and sexy pianist (try saying that five times fast) Harry Connick Jr. returned to Broadway last night with the opening of a reincarnated On a Clear Day You Can See Forever. The critical response has been mixed to negative and the element of the show generating the most ink is not the hunky lead but the thorough reimagining of the Alan Jay Lerner book by Peter Parnell and spearheaded by director Michael Mayer.
If you haven’t heard already, the new production performs a sex change on one of the leading characters (not on stage, just during rewrites). Originally the loopy story of a 1960’s young woman whose psychiatrist falls for one of her past lives (an 18th century courtesan) while she is under hypnosis, it is now the equally off-kilter but more sexual ambiguous tale of a 1970’s young man whose psychiatrist (Connick) falls for one of his past lives–a very female 1940’s nightclub singer. I haven’t seen it yet so I can’t speak to how well the change works but it would seem intended to make headlines and spice up a rarely revived show with some gender bending and scary disco threads. But if they think they got there first, they’re wrong!
It turns out that On a Clear Day has already been given the sex change treatment, though one that was less KC & the Sunshine Band and more KD Lang. Japan’s enormously popular Takarazuka Revue upped the gender confusion back in 1996 and performed the show with an all-female cast, as they have done with many Western-style Broadway musicals since 1914. Which begs the question: if the Takarazuka Revue puts on another production of On a Clear Day but with the new script, does that mean a woman would be playing a man who was a woman in a past life? (Paging Julie Andrews, we finally have that idea for Victor/Victoria 2: Bouquet of Reincarnations.) Ponder that thought as you watch the following oddly compelling clips from the Takarazuka Revue’s On a Clear Day and decide if perhaps this was the way Mayer and Parnell should have gone…
And just because I can’t resist now, look at this wonderfully bizarre clip from their adaptation of Gone With the Wind featuring lots of crying, hoop skirts and a very studly Rhett Butler.