By Ralph McAllister
Many of us have had a not so secret love affair with Doris Day since childhood.
So if I tell you I have just blown in from the Windy City, after a sentimental journey, during which my face was powdered with sunshine, you might guess what you are about to read is a review of a show which is nothing short of magic.
Ali Harper has written and is performing her A Doris Day Special at Circa for the next month and you would be a fool to miss this brilliant piece of musical theatre.
80 minutes of highlights
Ali has been living Doris Mary Ann Kappelhoff for some time now and not a breath of staleness is evident in this 80 minute show, where we get some 23 songs delivered with all Day’s nuances and irresistible smiling.
But Harper goes further. She makes us feel special. You know she is singing just for us.
The intimacy of Circa 2 has seldom been used to better effect.
The musical direction by Rodger Fox, musical arrangements by Michael Bell, directing by Stephanie McKellar-Smith and the graphics designed by Sacha Edwards are, quite simply, world class.
Talk about shaking the blues away!
The relentless positivity of Doris Day as she lists the many men in her life might pale in the hands of a less skilful performer.
A must see world class show
Harper even makes sense of Day’s obsession with dogs, helped by some desperately funny examples of her menagerie.
Personal highlights would be her Calamity Jane which made me want to get up and dance with her. Don’t worry, I didn’t.
Secret Love with a wonderful musical arrangement, brought tears to the surface.
And after brave accounts of the tragedies in her life, her delivery of If I Had My Life To Live Over would have had many in the audience thinking, what would they do.
And of course the finale simply had to be Que Sera Sera, which we all joined in, to mark the end of a memorable evening.
In London a month ago I saw Audra McDonald perform her highly acclaimed interpretation of Billie Holiday. I loved it.
But in this case comparisons are not odious. What a team Harper and McDonald would make.
By now you might have guessed that this world class show is right here in the Windy City.
ALI HARPER in A DORIS DAY SPECIAL at CIRCA 2 until 14 October 2017