A Sentimental Journey at Wilton's Music Hall is a glorious romp through the life of Doris Day, which reveals a personal life with more melodrama than a Douglas Sirk movie behind the angelic public persona.
The pretty pastel 1950s set is peachy-perfect and echoes Doris's status as the very embodiment of America's Sweetheart, and the costume design is superb, lending even more credibility to Sally Hughes' impressive performance. She has captured the actress's characteristic trill down to a tee, and delivers Adam Rolston's sharp dialogue well. Initially using her only son Terry Melcher (Ian McLarnon) as a narrator, the play moves from her early teens when she still danced under her real name, Doris Kappelhoff (though a car accident changed the trajectory of her career) right through to present day. She completes the tale herself, another sad note in her story: like some other screen greats of her era, she now devotes herself to running an animal shelter in her home in California.
Contrasting her wholesome image with the backstage drama, her most famous numbers are used to illustrate this movie-worthy story, particularly "Que Sera Sera", "Young At Heart" and of course the title song, "A Sentimental Journey", which became an anthem for servicemen returning home after WWII.
Given that Day is one of the all-time highest grossing actresses of all time, it's surprising that she never won any of the major gongs, apart from a recent Lifetime Achievement Grammy. With a fantastic supporting cast, and set within a gorgeous atmospheric theatre, this show is a heartfelt tribute to the career of a much-loved icon.
Wilton's Music Hall, Graces Alley, Off Ensign Street, E1 8JB/ Until 4th April: Tues to Sat 7.30pm , Matinees Sat/Sun 2.30pm. Tickets: £23.50 (Running time 2 hrs 10 mins) 020 7702 2789