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The Theatreguide.London Review

A Sentimental Journey
Wilton's Music Hall       Spring 2010

This amiable little show traces the life of Doris Day, punctuating its narrative with more than two dozen songs associated with the singer-actress, from Sentimental Journey through Que Sera Sera.

(Skip this paragraph if you know all this: Best remembered in Britain for the 1953 film Calamity Jane and in America for the 1959 Pillow Talk and other romantic comedies, and for singing innumerable choruses of Que Sera Sera in The Man Who Knew Too Much, Doris Day was a big band singer in the 1940s and star of many film musicals in the 1950s and comedies and dramas in the 1960s.

As with some other stars of her generation, one of her husbands stole or mismanaged her money, leaving her deep in debt, so she had to spend five years in a TV sitcom she hated. She quit performing in 1974, which means that her retirement has now lasted longer than her career.)

Adam Rolston's script has the story told by Ian McLarnon as Day's son Terry, with Sally Hughes playing and singing as Doris. Mark Halliday, Elizabeth Elvin and Glyn Kerslake play Everyone Else, backed by a four-piece band.

This is not an Elvis impersonation or ABBA tribute show. Though Sally Hughes sings well, she makes little attempt to duplicate Day's style or phrasing, and only very rarely and briefly - in At Last and Secret Love- captures echoes of her sound.

(Ironically, Elizabeth Elvin as Day's mother comes closest to sounding just like Day in Que Sera Sera and Enjoy Yourself.)

About a third of the songs are presented as performances, the rest being woven into or commenting on the action, frequently out of their actual historical order, as when Que Sera Sera is a lullaby by Day's mother, Pretty Baby marks her son's birth and Love Me Or Leave Me responds to the end of one of her four marriages.

Although the production is modest, Alvin Rakoff's direction is polished and Joseph Pitcher's choreography attractive.

Don't come to A Sentimental Journey expecting to be able to close your eyes and hear the sound of Doris Day. Come for the well-told and interesting story, the attractive performances, and a string of pop classics by such masters as Rodgers, Hart, Styne, Cahn, Fain and Berlin.

Gerald Berkowitz

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Review of A Sentimental Journey - Wilton's Music Hall 2010


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