The music of Doris Day was the subject of a new show by former West End star Aileen Donohoe, who brought 'A Date with Doris' to the Jerome Hynes Theatre recently.
Featuring a variety of the Hollywood star's big hits, including a colourful 'Calamity Jane' section, the show is not so much a tribute act, but more of a carefully crafted thesis of admiration.
The show follows Aileen's antics in her apartment as she gets ready for a date, singing along with various tunes that reflect her feelings about the date, the man and everything else.
At first, the dialogue threw me a little but as the show went on, I began to appreciate the nuances of the writing. Our utterly likeable lead character is an out-and-out fangirl and everyone, no matter what age they are, knows what that is like. That notion of the avid fan, hearing a message in her heroine's music, is something that the show taps into very well.
It's also very effective, whether intentionally or not, of passing a subtle commentary on how much things have changed since the simple, old-fashioned romance of Doris Day's movies. While Aileen sings of her dream man wooing her, and her mother throws around quotes about marriage, her wry responses remind us that we are living in the age of Tinder and social media. As Aileen says herself, she'd be happy just to be able to update her relationship status on Facebook!
But, regardless of what the writer wanted to say with this piece, at its heart are the songs, which are flawless from start to finish. Aileen Donohoe's credentials speak for themselves and it's hard to find something that hasn't been said before about her - she is, quite simply, one of the finest stage talents Wexford has ever produced and it's always a joy to watch her perform. I found her rendition of 'It's Magic' especially spine-tingling.
'A Date with Doris' is a wonderfully warm and charming show that invites you into a different, more romantic era, while simultaneously retaining its grip on the present day. It is a nostalgic (even for those who aren't old enough!) and entertaining evening of song and theatre.