By Victoria L. Dammer
Some of us remember her, the beautiful blond Doris Day, with a voice best described as smooth, able to hold a note forever, enticing since it was almost conversational. From the outside, the actress, singer, and animal rights activist had it all. She recorded over 650 songs in her career. Day starred with famous leading men in musicals, comedies, dramas, and thrillers, and was nominated for an Academy Award for Pillow Talk with Rock Hudson. Success brought her a Golden Globe and recognition for her achievements.
Day had a captivating smile, yet there was tremendous sadness and anxiety, even panic attacks, and marital abuse. Paul Adams gives the audience a chance to see this side of her life in his world premiere of Doris Day: My Secret Love.
Doris Day (Tiffan Borelli) pokes her head from the curtain as she is introduced at the Doris Day Animal Foundation in 1985. Accompanying her on piano onstage is her long-time friend and musical collaborator Les Brown (David Beck). Our attention is brought to a projection screen on stage, flashing photographs accompanying Day on her reminiscent journey from obscurity to the present day. Day (Borelli) is perky and alluring, emulating all of Day’s mannerisms, telling the story of how breaking her leg in a train accident changed her life from dancer to singer.
Bandleader Barney Rapp was in the audience of one of Day’s first shows and asked her to come perform with him. She changed her last name from Kappelhoff to Day, and she worked with other famous bandleaders, like Jimmy Brown and Bob Crosby. Borelli charms the audience, first performing Day’s debut song Day by Day, and singing Day’s first hit song Sentimental Journey. Older adults filled the audience, who appreciated the chance to enjoy music from the past.
Day interacts with photos flashed on the projection screen, some causing happiness while others caused extreme stress to her character as she recalled good and bad moments of her life. Beck changes into characters from Day’s life, like her first husband, trombonist Al Jordan, who abused her but provided her with her only child, Terrence (Terry). Beck also transformed into her second, third, and fourth husband, as well as Terry. Beck is an admirable chameleon.
Day’s fame took her away from her son for long periods of time, resulting in a lifelong addiction that put him in rehab. Day’s second husband, American film producer Martin Melcher, provided parental care to Terry while Day was on the road. We see Day visiting Terry in rehab, when he so painfully told her, “You loved your career…not me.”
Borelli sings what many consider Day’s most memorable song, her 2nd Oscar song Que Sera, Sera, engaging the audience to sing along. We hear intimate details of Day’s decades-long friendship with handsome Rock Hudson, are told she had nicknamed them Clara and Ernie. She tells us that Hudson was “a man I spent more time in his bed than my husband’s.” Hudson was the man of her dreams, the perfect husband who loved her for who she was, allowing her to be Doris the human being, not Doris the star.
Emerging Artists Theatre presents the World Premier of Doris Day: My Secret Love, written by Paul Adams. Starring Tiffan Borelli and David Beck. Directed by Melissa Attebery with musical direction by Adam Michael Tilford.
The running time is approximately 85 minutes.
The show has a two-month engagement through October 29, 2023.
Tickets can be purchased at Emerging Artists Theatre