The world recently lost one of its biggest stars with the passing of Doris Day. A legend of stage, screen and song, Doris died aged 97, leaving behind an incredible body of work, including iconic movies and unforgettable songs.
Doris Day, “the girl next door”, had millions of fans around the world, none bigger than chart-topping Australian singer songwriter Melinda Schneider, who has recorded two albums of Doris’ songs, co-written and starred in a theatre show based on Doris’ life, and done sell-out tours celebrating Doris’ work. Melinda Schneider has now announced the 2019/20 national tour A Farewell To Doris, a heartfelt tribute to Doris Day and will be performing this show in Adelaide. Melinda speaks to Hi Fi Way about the show.
Is this type of show an artist’s dream to be involved in?
It is, especially with a big eighteen piece orchestra and it is very rare for an artist to be able to do that. It is thrilling and I’m really excited about it.
How much work goes in to a production like this as we can only assume the magic just doesn’t happen?
Weeks and weeks of work setting it up, getting the band together, getting the arrangements done and all the publicity and that kind of thing you have to do as well. It is quite a long process but I have done this show with these songs even though this one is a concert whereas my previous shows are all scripted about her life. Being a concert it will be a little more casual in a sense and a celebration of her incredible life. It’s a chance for people to say goodbye to her.
Does this format allow you to give more a personal perspective about what these songs mean to you?
This will be a little more of a personal perspective for me, previously the other shows have been about the facts of her movies, songs and personal life. It will be less about details and more about how she made us feel.
Is there a fact you have learnt about Doris Day that you didn’t know before?
Yeah, she was first in line to play Jessica Fletcher in Murder She Wrote but turned it down. She also turned down the role of Mrs Robinson in The Graduate because she felt it was to crass for her. Those two things I didn’t know but generally I didn’t really know about the challenges she had in her personal life and the things she had to overcome. They are the things that stay with me and the most impressive thing about her as a person is she survived these four tumultuous marriages and her third husband lost all of her money. She remained this beautiful positive spirit and survived to ninety seven. It is pretty amazing!
How important was it to have that personal endorsement from Doris Day herself?
It was lovely that she read the script and came back giving me the thumbs up, definitely made me feel good that she was happy with me doing the show. I think she would be happy that we’re still celebrating her incredible legacy now.
What was it about her songs that attracted you to do this show?
I love the movie Calamity Jane, that’s my favourite film and the first one I ever saw. It’s also the joy she brought to all these amazing songs whether they be jazz standards, band or musical theatre songs, movie or even pop songs from the 60s such as Pillow Talk and Everybody Loves A Lover, just the joy and sincerity and life force come through.
Are some of these songs more complicated than others to learn?
Yeah, I think you need to be a very versatile singer to be able to sing all these different styles. I really enjoy getting my teeth in to that and go from singing a romantic beautiful ballad which requires a good breathing technique to singing a different style, I love them all, I love the diversity of it.
Do you have a favourite time period with Doris Day’s music?
Somewhere in the middle, I think the early 50s I really love. It was really glamorous time, the early 50s were that quintessential Hollywood bombshell time. When we think of Hollywood we think of that I think.
Do you find these songs actually do take you back in time?
Yeah, music has the power to do that and take you back to another time making you feel all sorts of feelings.
Have you found by doing these shows there is even a greater interest in what you are doing?
Most people who have seen me in big theatres aren’t really big country music fans and didn’t even know I existed before seeing me in these Doris shows. I think they have come to other things I have done since. Then from the other side country music fans also love Calamity Jane want to come along with me in to this Doris world as well. It has been really great to be able to broaden my audience through this project.
Interview By Rob Lyon
Tickets for A Farewell To Doris is available from https://www.farewelltodoris.com
A Farewell To Doris Tour Dates
Sunday 1 Sept Adelaide – Festival Theatre
Friday 6 Sept Sydney – Sydney Opera House
Sunday 8 Sept Perth – Perth Concert Hall
Friday 13 Sept – Melbourne – Hamer Hall
Sunday 15 Sept – Brisbane – QPAC Concert Hall