Since the re opening of the historic El Portal Theatre in the year 2000 there have been two underlying themes: Hollywood and all things British. Shows about Hollywood starring the icons themselves on stage at the El Portal have included Bea Arthur at the El Portal, Debbie Reynolds (three times!), Charles Nelson Reilly, Kitty Carlisle Hart, Danny Kaye Musical — The Kid from Brooklyn, Kathryn Crosby’s Salute to Bing Crosby, A Conversation with Edith Head, and most recently the Al Jolson musical, Jolson at the Winter Garden. British fare began in 2001 with Sir Ray Cooney’s favorite farce Out of Order (winner of the Oliver Award for Best Comedy), and has included Toni Morrel’s cabaret Remembering the Ladies, and The Lythgoe Family holiday pantomimes — direct from London — Cinderella and this season’s Snow White.
Now El Portal combines these two favorite elements in November with the US premiere of the British hit A Sentimental Journey: The Story of Doris Day, starring an all British cast! Special American guest artist Lily O’Donnell, a maltese/shitzu starlet and genuine Toluca Lake resident (owned by the Television Academy’s Robert O’Donnell), will join the Brits as the “on stage” Doris Day dog.
British theatre company The Mill at Sonning developed this fascinating new musical in London at the Wilton Music Hall in 2010, subsequently refined it at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in August, and just played eight smash weeks back at their own theatre in
Oxfordshire, England. Featuring 20 hit songs, the musical follows the fascinating life and career of the multitalented girl next door, Doris Day! Well known UK actress Sally Hughes stars as Doris and is directed by the award winning Alvin Ratoff, who was president of the British Director’s Guild as well as a member of the BAFTA Council.
Doris Day’s first hit record endeared her to British soldiers and the population in World War II, and they adopted her as one of their own. Sir Paul McCartney — who lists Doris Day as his “favourite” singer — recently interviewed the Hollywood star for London’s Daily Telegraph:
Paul McCartney: “You became the armed forces sweetheart [in 1945 with Sentimental Journey]. What was it like for you at that time with the returning soldiers?”
Doris Day: “I loved that song. It made me feel so good to think they were coming home, and I loved that.“
The love affair continues from November 2—20 at El Portal Theatre. Producers Jay Irwin and Pegge Forrest are proud to import this British confection, and look forward to showing the cast the “rich Hollywood history of Toluca Lake” — including Doris’ home on Valley Street and Toluca Lake’s very own Jackie Joseph, who co-starred on CBS’ The Doris Day Show for five seasons (1968-72).
Then after A Sentimental Journey, we are so excited to have the Lythgoes back by popular demand with their family fun holiday shows! And there will be a special “British Invasion” celebration for New Year’s Eve and Day with the Beatles tribute show, Four Lads from Liverpool. We just can’t get enough British fun!
A Sentimental Journey: The Story of Doris Day plays the El Portal MainStage Theatre from Nov. 2–20. Tickets are available by calling (818) 508-4200, or online at www.elportaltheatre.com.