Growing up, Scott Dreier lived in an ultra-conservative family that limited his pop culture enjoyment to viewings of the “Saturday Afternoon Family Film Festival” in the 1970s and ’80s on KTLA. Amid those weekly features were frequent airings of multitalented Doris Day’s many box-office hits, and Dreier found himself drawn to her as a more joyful mother figure whose indomitable perkiness brightened his days.
Years later, the former Monrovia resident embarked on a career as a theatrical actor and in 2007 was working at the Welk Resort Theatre in San Diego when the artistic director convinced him to create a special show paying tribute to his favorite cinematic icon. The result, “Doris and Me,” has played nationwide in the years since then, and he’ll be bringing it to the Sierra Madre Playhouse for four performances this weekend and next.
“When you only have one human being serve as your pop culture as a kid, she became my friend or mother figure, an accessible kind of escape or place to go,” says Dreier. “The Welk artistic director called me on my bluff and told me to create the show within four months. The early audiences helped me figure out what they needed and what I needed more or less of.”
It’s not hard to understand Dreier’s devotion to 97-year-old Day, who was the biggest star in show business at the height of her career. She starred in 39 films, was the No. 1 female box office star for four years, won three Golden Globes, was nominated for an Oscar and starred for five years in the hit series “The Doris Day Show.”
Day also received numerous accolades, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the Cecil B. DeMille Award, and a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Los Angeles Film Critics Association. She recorded 20 albums, the last released in 2011, and many of her recordings are classics of the Great American Songbook. Since 1975, she has famously devoted herself to the cause of animal welfare.
Dreier not only tells stories about his life in relation to Day, but also shares intriguing tales about the actress, who moved to Carmel after retiring from acting. In addition, he sings 28 of her songs — including “Que Sera Sera” and “Sentimental Journey” — throughout the show, but notes “some songs were just a minute long back then.” The show also features over 75 curated images and clips from throughout her film and recording career, as Dreier sings with piano and bass accompaniment.
“I definitely researched her life for stories and her autobiography is the Holy Grail for that,” explains Dreier. “Most icons felt inaccessible, but she always made you feel you were with her. As I got older I made the real connection that this person is doing rom coms with James Garner and Rock Hudson, dramatic work with Hitchcock and Jimmy Stewart, and even playing Calamity Jane. To me she’s the greatest singer who ever lived, nobody sings like her and it inspired the course of my life as a performer, led me on my path and her animal activism made me an activist today. She did it before everybody, long before it was in vogue and certainly early in Hollywood.”
Indeed, Dreier’s heartfelt devotion to the Doris Day Foundation’s work with animals has inspired him to collect donations to the cause after each show since 2012. In just seven years, he has raised more than $250,000 for the cause. He will also help the Pasadena Humane Society feature a rescue dog at each show, in the hopes that they’ll find homes for four dogs by the time his run is over.
“When I was in fifth grade I moved to Carlsbad but until then I was in Monrovia,” says Dreier. “I’ve always said I was going to come back because I love it here, and I went to American Academy of Dramatic Arts when it was in Altadena. This run feels special because I feel like I’m bringing the show home.”
“Doris and Me” will be performed at 8 p.m. Fri., Sat. and April 13, and 2:30 p.m. April 14, at the Sierra Madre Playhouse, 87 W. Sierra Madre Blvd., Sierra Madre. Tickets are $25 to $35. Call (626) 355-4318 or visit sierramadreplayhouse.org.