Tuesday, 2 February 1999

Dusty, Doris and Me, 2 Feb 1999

Dusty, Doris and Me
by Wendy Stapleton At Caper's until February 20, 1999
Reviewer: Kate Herbert

Singer Wendy Stapleton is the latest musical act to grace the stage of Caper's Dinner Theatre in her peppy new show, Dusty, Doris and Me. Much of the program comprises signature tunes of Doris Day and Dusty Springfield peppered by some of Stapleton's own favourites.

Under the management of Paul Baden, the most engaging host in town, Caper's has taken off in the past eighteen months as a cabaret venue. It boasts warmth, great food, recent renovations and classy acts including Julie Anthony, Jeannie Little and Combo Fiasco who soon do a return season after their hit New York tour.

Stapleton, with her accomplished accompanist Dean Lotherington and directed by Terry O'Connell, fits the bill with an entertaining evening of song.

Dusty, Doris and Me is not a huge theatrical production as was Stapleton's very successful show, I Only Want To Be With You - The Dusty Springfield Story. Here, she does not attempt to recreate the famous songstresses and their lives. It is more 'up close and personal'.

Opening night was a little nervous as rehearsals had been interrupted by renovations. A couple of audiences will solve that. Stapleton relaxed noticeably in the second half and .her smoky voice was in fine form for songs such as My Colouring Book, Windmills of your Mind and Just Don't Know What To Do With Myself.

Stapleton has selected a couple of Stephen Sondheim songs and she sings his work well. Just A Housewife (from Working) and his very witty The Ladies Who Lunch (from Company) were a hit as was Sondheim's hilarious satirical take on The Boy From Ipanema, in which the boy hails from some unpronouncable Hispanic village.

The Doris Day hits include Calamity Jane's Deadwood Stage, Black Hills of Dakota and Secret Love. This is a really a singalong program so we hope Wendy doesn't mind the singing along.

A feature of the show is Dean Lotherington's thrilling and perfectly clear-toned voice. He perches behind the grand piano singing harmonies but his three solos are compelling. He does extraordinary versions of Old Friend (from Getting My Act Together), Kurt Weill's Lost in the Stars and a compelling rendition of Even When I'm Sleeping (by Leonardo's Bride).

Director, O'Connell, might have found a better balance for the show. Its structure is bumpy and the order of songs has no logic and does not ebb and flow well. But this is an evening of great songs and food.

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