Andy Howells takes a Sentimental Journey to Newport’s Riverfront Theatre to review the Doris Day centenary show, A Day To Remember starring Lynda Radford and Brad Pepper.
There’s no better time than a Sunday afternoon to take a sentimental journey that combines the magic of the silver screen with the great American songbook. That is exactly what a joyous audience at Newport’s Riverfront Theatre on Sunday afternoon when A Day To Remember paid homage to the magic of Doris Day in the year that marks the centenary of her birth.
Although Doris is no longer with us, her music legacy is clearly in safe and competent hands as Lynda Radford took to the stage to recreate Doris’ greatest hits and best-known recordings with accuracy, bounce and verve.
A Day To Remember delivers a potted history of Doris’ life with nuggets of information about the star, born Doris Mary Anne Kappelhoff in Cincinnatti, Ohio on April 3, 1922 alongside performances of her songs. Not knowing much about Doris beyond her music and film appearances, I was enlightened to discover how her career moved from that of a big band singer in 1939 to commercial success in 1945 with her recording of Sentimental Journey. Lynda’s acapella performance of Doris radio hit Day by Day (of which she acquired her stage name) was one of my favourite moments of the show.
Using a variety of iconic film posters as a backdrop, Lynda proceeded to recall Doris’ 20-year Hollywood film career and her leading men from James Stewart, Cary Grant and Rock Hudson to David Niven, James Cagney and Frank Sinatra, with the help of vocalist Brad Pepper.
The real part of A Day To Remember’s magic is the exquisitely performed songs. Many Doris Day hits have ultimately become part of the Great American Songbook including Love Me or Leave Me (from the film of the same name) and This Can’t Be Love (from Jumbo) which were also recognisable to me for being recorded by contemporaries such as Sammy Davis Jr and Nat King Cole respectively.
Among the show’s many highlights were performances of It’s Magic (from Romance on the High Seas), Tea For Two, Everybody Loves A Lover, Lullaby of Broadway, Que Sera Sera (from the Hitchcock thriller The Man Who Knew Too Much) and a selection of hits from Calamity Jane including Secret Love, The Dead Wood Stage (Whip Crack Away) and Just Blew In From The Windy City.
Brad Pepper also occasionally took centre stage with enjoyable solo renditions of songs including Frank Sinatra’s Young at Heart (the title song from the Day-Sinatra film) and Doris’ own Perhaps, Perhaps, Perhaps.
Further music and movie memories for Newport’s appreciative audience were evoked as both Lynda and Brad performed a singalong rendition of Move Over Darling. The show ended on Lynda’s rendition of The Way We Were, recalled as Doris final performance from a 1970s TV special with head shots of Doris leading men appearing on the back projection.
There’s no Perhaps, Perhaps, Perhaps about it – A Day To Remember is the must-see show for all Doris Day aficionados. To define Lynda & Brad’s performance – It’s Magic!