Review: A Doris Day Special a great evening's entertainment
A Doris Day Special, written by Ali Harper, directed by Stephanie McKellar-Smith with musical direction recording by Rodger Fox, Circa Theatre until October 14.
Although many of today's theatre audiences did not grow up during the 1950s and 60s they nevertheless have probably heard of Doris Day, one of the most famous movie stars of the period.
The "singing sweetheart" of America as she was referred to had a string of movie hits and Top Ten songs such as Sentimental Journey, Secret Love, and Que Sera Sera which all feature in Ali Harper's highly professional and immensely entertaining show A Doris Day Special, currently playing in the Circa Theatre Studio.
Along with director Stephanie McKellar-Smith, Harper has put together a show that, although giving a once over lightly of Day's life, from her beginning as a 16-year-old singer with big jazz bands to her cracking the Hollywood market, her marriages and of course the string of leading men she appeared with, it is the songs she sung and how they were such a feature of her life that Harper focuses on.
Being an excellent singer and consummate performer Harper is able to truly epitomise everything everyone ever imagines about Day.
From the beautifully coiffured blonde hair to the superb costumes and of course that ever persistent wide smile and gleaming white teeth, Harper doesn't just impersonate the star but is the star. And while the overall effect could be regarded as a little saccharine, it is a highly charged show that moves along at a great pace very much on one level, although there are one or two more sombre moments reflecting the darker times of Day's life.
The songs though are great, many well-known but some not so, with Harper giving that unique Day style, and smile, to each.
However, it is the production values of this show and the way Harper and her team have put together an incredibly stylised, sophisticated production that is the stand out feature. Set in a TV studio of the time with a large screen, and flanked on one side by a clothes rack adorned with an array of magnificent costumes and the other an outdoor garden setting. The setting is used very effectively in the show.
Harper's onstage performance and the big band music arranged by Rodger Fox make for a great evening's entertainment.