BWW Reviews: DORIS AND ME a Smash at the El Portal
Doris and Me/conceived, written & performed by Scott Dreier/directed by Richard Israel/with musical accompaniment by Bob Remstein and Paul Morin/Monroe Forum Theatre at the El Portal, NoHo/through August 3
Actor/singer Scott Dreier is, by self-description, consumed with Doris Day. He has been a fan since a tender age, watching every Doris Day movie and listening to every Day album hundreds, perhaps thousands of times. We all love Day. Who doesn't? She symbolizes all that is sweet and good in life! Because of her genuine spirit, it became OK for actresses like Mary Tyler Moore and Valerie Harper to have their own shows, representing ordinary yet intelligent young middle-class women and their problems. Because of her, four legged creatures have more organizations looking out for their total welfare. Because of her, our overall lives are a whole lot happier. Scott Dreier, like Day, is genuine, warm with a strong lilting vocal instrument and possessing an infectious charisma, with that famous 'sparkling smile' that will not quit on or off stage. He is the perfect entertainer to extol Doris Day and to sing her unforgettable music.
With fluid direction from Richard Israel and a fiercely uplifitng script by Dreier and co-writer Kurits Simmons, Doris and Me, now onstage at the Monroe Forum Theatre of the El Portal in Noho is more than a revue of Doris Day music. It is a documentary of her life and career with a totally personal slant, told and sung by someone who has adored her all his life. Through Dreier's eyes, we learn that Day has a website on which she records actual messages to her fans. We also learn interesting tidbits from her career which began at age 16. At 19, she was a band singer with Les Brown and in 1948 she scored big time in her very first film Michael Curtiz' Romance on the High Seas with Jack Carson. Her life was hardly a bed of roses with horrorific marriages and debt, but somehow Day always managed to land sunny side up with her feet planted firmly on the ground. This is Dreier's image of her, and it's the one we want to keep locked in our minds. She is still with us, thank heavens, at 90, residing in Carmel, Ca.
Musical highlights of the show, divided into two acts, are: "It's Magic", "This Can't Be Love", "It Was Just One of Those Things", the gorgeous "Little Girl Blue" from her last musical film Jumbo in 1962. Act II has a montage of video clips and Dreier singing a medley from Pillow Talk and Calamity Jane, Day's favorite character. There's also "Young At Heart", "My Buddy", with a lovely personal story from Dreier about his grandmother, her brother and the personal effect the song has had on him, "Que Sera Sera" and "Sentimental Journey" with a story about how Dreier met Day that will reduce you to tears. This personal quality permeates the entire show with Dreier making comparisons of himself to Day, the highs and lows of their careers and signaling what each song meant to her when she recorded it or its effect on him when he first heard it. There is superb accompaniment throughout the two-hour program by Bob Remstein at the piano and Paul Morin on bass.
This is the second time I have seen Doris and Me. Since last summer in Escondido, the show has improved its rear projection accompaniment with many new photos and colorful slide projections of Day and highlights of her career. Dreier also adds a touching anecdote about meeting Day at her 90th birthday party this past April in Carmel. The show works beautifully in the Monroe Forum space making it increasingly intimate and Dreier even more approachable. What an endearing and magnetic performer! Don't miss Scott Dreier's wonderfully educational and entertaining Doris and Me. It's truly joyful. If you're a Doris Day fan, it's a must; if you're not, you'll be one by the end of the show.
Opening night was a benefit for the Doris Day Animal Foundation and brought out many celebrities including actors who worked with Day in film and on TV, like Chris Olsen who played her son in The Man Who Knew Too Much and Jackie Joseph who appeared in With Six You Get Eggroll.
Doris and Me plays 54 Below in New York on August 20!