Doris Day got rid of her husbands with their guarantees, according to this lightweight but informative cabaret show from the Mill at Sonning; they were like expendable fridges. But she only had four and she’s still with us, living in California with her beloved dogs.
One of these little mutts makes a reluctant appearance in Chambers Street, wary of a stage full of musicians (four) and actors (five) treading their way through a biographical format narrated by Doris’s troubled son, Terry Melcher (Conor Michael Sheridan).
Terry was somehow connected with the Sharon Tate murder, but this is glossed over in a touching duet with his mother, just as Doris’s many discreet affairs fail to remove the sheen from her wholesome, girl-next-door image.
Sally Hughes as Doris does wholesomeness big time, but she also sings very well, catching the right texture of creamy jauntiness in her signature numbers “Que Sera Sera,” “Move Over Darling,” and “With a Song in My Heart”(the latter after she’s won a $22m settlement in court).
She can’t quite convey the particular magic of Doris Day – who could? – but we can share in an affectionate evocation as Hughes dons Calamity Jane’s leathers and rides round the auditorium on a Deadwood Stage of wooden boxes.