Tribute to America’s singing sweetheart
merica’s singing sweetheart of the silver screen has had a triumphant revival by New Zealand vocalist Ali Harper. In the 1950s and ‘60s Doris Day was the number one female box office star in the world with such hits as Sentimental Journey, Secret Love and Whatever Will Be, Will Be and her enduring songs and albums are still heard regularly today.
Inspired by a meeting with Doris Day on her 92nd birthday, Ali Harper has created a one-woman boutique musical play based on a television special, set in 1971 in Hollywood.
‘‘With her bubbly personality, lilting voice and blonde beauty, Doris Day was America’s singing sweetheart,’’ Ali says. ‘‘Our show, entitled A Doris Day Special, celebrates the life and songs of the quintessential girl next door.’’
A Doris Day Special debuted in Christchurch in April/May and has enjoyed successful seasons in Invercargill, New Plymouth and Hamilton. Ali’s Palmerston North performance will be presented by the Regent on Broadway on Sunday, July 10, at 4pm.
Critics describe Ali Harper as the complete Doris Day, singing and dancing through her films, her leading men, her four high-profile marriages, her financial ruin, her personal connection with Charles Manson but, despite sadness and pain, she recovers every step of the way.
Ali Harper researched Doris Day for three years and sang to her on her 92nd birthday, two years ago. The experience led to her homage to a very special woman.
‘‘I wanted to write a show that people could feel an overwhelming sense of nostalgia through Doris’s music and films but also capture the fundamental beauty of a really joyful and positive woman, no matter what life has thrown at her,’’ Ali comments.
Setting the special in a Hollywood TV studio gives Ali the licence to have her audience witness the on-air and off-air moments which are so rarely seen.
The special music tracks that accompany Ali’s singing were recorded by the Rodger Fox Big Band with a 12-piece string ensemble.
Ali has starred in numerous musicals and plays in major centres and has toured New Zealand in Chess, Evita, Pirates of Penzance, Oklahoma and the one-woman play, Bombshells. She has performed at New York’s prestigious Metropolitan Room in 2013 and 2014 with her cabaret show A Down Under Diva and is a regular guest entertainer on cruise ships.
She was resident singer for four years on TV One’s Dancing With the Stars.
A Doris Day Special Sunday, July 10, 4pm. Bookings at TicketDirect.
Ali Harper is Doris Day.