Tony Mastroianni Review Collection

On a Clear Day, You Can See Raitt

Cleveland Press June 20, 1967

The nice thing about doing a telephone interview with John Raitt is that you get both words and music He doesn't just tell you that at a certain point in the show he sings a particular song -- he illustrates by singing.

Raitt will be at Musicarnival starting next Monday night in "On A Clear Day You Can See Forever," a production that opens tonight in Westbury, Long Island, at another tent theater.

Raitt was here a year ago in the pre-Broadway tryout of a show called "A Joyful Noise," a production that created a dismal silence when it opened in New York this past season and played for two weeks.

"We just couldn't convince the producer to get a writer in to work on it," recalled Raitt. Ed Padula, the producer, also wrote the show.

"A lot of those lines were embarrassing," Raitt continued, "but the music was good."

The show, for those who may not recall it, was about a folk singer who came down from the hills and became a rock and roll sensation after falling into the hands of a clever operator.

RAITT THOUGHT two things were wrong -- that the show should have been set in the 1930's and that the main character should not have been so good.

"I think Walter Kerr (New York critic) was right when he said that he couldn't figure out if this character was Elvis Presley or Johnny Appleseed."

Raitt said the show's director left during the summer run and that the production broke up completely three weeks before the end of summer.

"Padula finally called in Dore Schary to write and direct and Schary thought it had possibilities. But he and Padula disagreed and Schary walked off six days before the opening."

The opening date was postponed several times and as a result the show lost the advantage of an advance sale buildup, according to Raitt. When it did open it was shortly before Christmas, a poor period to launch anything.

"I think if we could have held on another week or two past Christmas we might have lasted until June," Raitt opined.

"CLEAR DAY," the Alan Jay Lerner-Burton Lane show that Raitt is doing this summer, is about a psychiatrist who finds that one of his students has extrasensory perception.

Lerner revised the production last fall and that revised version opened at the Hanna. It is this version, with a few more changes, that Raitt is doing.

Raitt explained the changes which amount to repeating a couple of songs so that the first act ends on a song and the show concludes with a song plus a slight change that makes it obvious there's a romance.

"The leading lady and I go into a clinch," explained 'Raitt.

That ought to make It clear enough.

"We trimmed some of the dialog, too," Raitt added. "Lerner must have had some words left over from 'Camelot' when he wrote this."

RAITT WILL PLAY this show for nine weeks and then will do "Carousel" for two weeks in Milwaukee. After that he hopes to get back on Broadway.

"It's like a diver who takes a flop," Raitt said. "He's got to get back right away."