“Que sera sera, whatever will be, will be” is somewhat of a theme song
for “girl-next-door” Doris Day… and according to my companion on the
night I saw this how she hasn’t been able to get the song out of her
Presented by: Bold Jack & Mike Walsh
Venue: Her Majesty’s Theatre
Saturday, 27 August 2011
“Que sera sera, whatever will be, will be” is somewhat of a theme song for ‘girl-next-door’ Doris Day… and according to my companion on the night I saw this how she hasn’t been able to get the song out of her mind since. For me though it is Doris’s breakthrough hit ‘Sentimental Journey’, which best sums up the essence of this tribute show.
To broadly paraphrase Doris Day, if you can sit through this lengthy show with its 26 songs without getting diabetes, you are probably a rusted on fan of both Doris and/or Melinda Schneider. Trusting from the audience reaction there are plenty out there who fit this criteria: ranging from Doris fans from way back when; new fans of country music star Melinda Schneider (who apparently wowed audiences with her appearance on Dancing with the Stars); and audiences drawn from Doris’s later incarnation as a gay icon.
Co-written by Schneider and David Mitchell (who brought us musicals about Johnny O’Keefe and Dusty Springfield), Doris Day – So Much More Than The Girl Next Door doesn’t stray far from the tried formula of your typical tribute show. Created to piggy-back on her 2010 concept album Melinda Does Doris, Schneider makes it clear that this is not an impersonation, but a homage to her heroine.
The parallels in the narrative that are drawn between Doris and Schneider, both artistically and personally, make for a cosy atmosphere. But some of Schneider’s disclosures about her own personal life are, to put it frankly, in the realm of a bit too much information; and when she brings her dogs on stage and sings one of her own songs, the line between tribute and self-indulgence is blurred.
Such criticisms aside, this is a slick and mostly entertaining night at the theatre. The big band on stage, led by musical director Michael J Harding, a central stair case and spectacular chandelier provide a glamorous set for the multitude of songs. Ranging from Doris’s early days as a band singer, to familiar tunes from musicals like Calamity Jane and the ubiquitous ‘Que Sera’, highpoints include ‘Sentimental Journey’ – in a lovely close harmony arrangement for the three performers – and a gripping solo from Schneider, ‘Autumn Leaves’.
Ably supported by dancer/singers Sam Ludeman and Rohan Browne, Schneider delivers the songs with panache and clear enjoyment. The gowns too (by Matthew Aberline) are fabulous, except for an unfortunate knee-length yellow number that emphasises Schneider’s cowgirl stance; and the choreography by Andrew Hallsworth cleverly works within the limitations of the leading lady.
Doris Day – So Much More Than The Girl Next Door could do with some trimming, but is a pleasant night out for those looking for a night of familiar tunes delivered with style and affection – complete with a sing-along on that song, that’ll leave you humming for days.
Until 4 September, 2011
See our interview with Melinda Schneider and snippets from the show below: