Doris and Me

by Les Spindle

EDGE Media Network Contributor

Friday July 25, 2014

Scott Dreier in 'Doris and Me'
Scott Dreier in 'Doris and Me'  (Source:Ed Krieger)

Thanks to fans of iconic movie star Doris Day, this past April felt like a month-long Day-fest in cyberspace, as postings about the reclusive performer's unexpected appearance at her 90th birthday celebration flooded social media for several weeks.

Ardent admirers of the beloved film and TV luminary aren't hard to come by, and actor-singer Scott Dreier seems determined to remain at the head of that class. His scintillating solo cabaret revue "Doris and Me," written by Dreier and Kurtis Simmons, has been making its way around Southern California and in other states, and makes its New York bow at 54 Below on August 20.

Under the superb direction of Richard Israel, "Doris and Me" has launched a brief run at the El Portal Theatre in North Hollywood. It's a nonstop delight, filled with great music, plenty of nostalgia, and a few sentimental tears.

Dreier is the sort of performer whose enthusiasm and easygoing charm vie with his consummate abilities as an actor-singer-dancer in providing a thoroughly satisfying evening. Backed up by the superb musicianship of keyboardist-composer-producer Bob Remstein and Paul Morin on bass, Dreier takes us on a fast-paced journey, featuring musical highlights from Day's long career as a band singer, recording artist and film star, supplemented by intriguing tidbits about her life.

He wisely downplays the darker episodes in her past, particularly her experiences with abusive husbands, as he emphasizes her qualities as a born survivor and ebullient spirit. She walked away from her remarkable career while in her 50s, settling in Carmel, California, focusing on close friends and her fervent love and support for animals.

Dreier has met her on two occasions (most recently at the 90th birthday bash), and describes her warmth and generosity of spirit to be exactly like the qualities that come across on the screen.

The evening is an absolute don't-miss for Day fans, and is so richly entertaining, it will also appeal to cabaret lovers and showbiz enthusiasts in general.

The tidbits of information offered in his patter are intriguing. How many people know she was considered for the lead roles in the films "Hello, Dolly!," "The Sound of Music," "South Pacific" and one that would have been an extreme change-of-image part for her -- Anne Bancroft's cradle-robbing vamp Mrs. Robinson in "The Graduate"? She nonetheless starred in countless memorable musicals, ranging from "Calamity Jane" to "The Pajama Game" to her last one, "Billy Rose's Jumbo."

In a salute to Day's years in the 1960s as queen of the Hollywood romantic comedy opposite the likes of Rock Hudson, James Garner and Cary Grant, Dreier offers a medley of some of the songs she sang over the opening credits, such as "Pillow Talk," "Lover Come Back" and "Move Over Darling." And he of course does not neglect her glorious catalog of movie-musical tunes, such as "Secret Love" (which ironically became a gay-romantic ballad) from "Calamity Jane," the gorgeous "Little Girl Blue" from "Billy Rose's Jumbo" and "It's Magic," from her first film, 1948's "Romance on the High Seas."

Dreier mentions his widely-shared view that Day deserved an Oscar nomination for her searing dramatic portrayal of chanteuse Ruth Etting in "Love Me or Leave Me" opposite James Cagney, but her only nom was for 1959's comedy "Pillow Talk." She has never received a special career Oscar, which many have been suggesting for decades.

From the classic Hitchcock thriller, "The Man Who Knew Too Much" came the song perhaps most widely identified with Day-"Que Sera Sera," which she eventually sang over the opening credits of her CBS sitcom "The Doris Day Show" (1968-73). Dreier invited the opening-night audience to join in on a singalong of this timelessly gorgeous song, eliciting enthusiastic participation. Arguably as strongly associated with Day is "Sentimental Journey" from her days as a band singer and recording artist, and Dreier offers an exquisite rendition of this.

There are many other highlights, including the melancholy "My Buddy," which Dreier combines with a heartbreaking anecdote from Day's life, and a personal connection of his own. An added opening-night treat was an initial introduction to the evening by Jackie Joseph, who costarred in "The Doris Day Show." Guests in the audience included Joanne Worley, a fellow animal-rights enthusiast/crusader, and four adults who played Day's children in the films "The Ballad of Josie, "The Thrill of It All" and "The Man Who Knew Too Much."

Film clips and image projections add to the magic spell. The evening is an absolute don't-miss for Day fans, and is so richly entertaining, it will also appeal to cabaret lovers and showbiz enthusiasts in general. For the charismatic Dreier, it's a tour-de-force vehicle, in which his unbridled love for Day provides the extra kick to make the evening so uplifting.

"Doris and Me" runs through Aug. 3 at the El Portal Theatre, 5259 Lankershim Blvd., North Hollywood. For tickets or information, call 818-508-4200 or visit