Back in the 1950s, there was such a thing as musical royalty in Hollywood – and beyond. The reigning king was undoubtedly Frank Sinatra and the queen was the eternal girl-next-door, Doris Day. Between them they charmed impressionable teenagers and inspired everyone of both sexes around the world to believe in true love and white picket fences.
It was also a glory time for American music – the time of the Great American Songbook, with swinging classics and beautiful ballads. And if you are hankering for a slice of this charming time, this is the era captured in the new stage show, Young at Heart, featuring singers Melinda Schneider and Tom Burlinson.
The duo celebrates the hits of Frank Sinatra and Doris Day in their new concert
In recent years Schneider has been singing the songs of Doris Day and Burlinson has been renowned for some time for his Frank Sinatra tribute show – so it’s truly a match made in heaven.
The duo first collaborated on Schneider’s second Doris Day album, Melinda Does Doris… Again with a duet of the aforementioned 'Young at Heart', one of Sinatra’s biggest hits and also the name of the only movie the two starred in together.
As Burlinson tells it, the inspiration for the show all originated with Schneider.
“We did the single together – with pleasing results, I have to say,” he says. “Melinda was happy with it. It was really her idea.”
“We loved doing that together,” says Schneider. “I approached Tom about a year ago with this idea to actually do a concert together, because he’s done his Frank Sinatra show for so many years so successfully, and I’ve done my Doris show. I had this vision – I just woke up one day and thought I’ve got to ring Tom Burlinson and see if he wants to put Doris and Frank together.”
“It’s been a long time in the works,” she adds. “So we’ve put it together now and it’s going to be so incredibly special doing a show with 20 people, with strings and horns. It’ll be very lush and the arrangements are going to be beautiful.
“A lot of the songs we’ll be doing as duets, because people have come to see our individual shows, but with this show it’s all about both of us getting together and singing things that we wouldn’t normally sing. So we’ll be doing 'New York, New York' as a duet, and we’ll be doing 'Secret Love' as a duet, both Doris and Frank songs together.”
Both Schneider and Burlinson have had life-long loves of their musical heroes. Burlinson says that according to his mother, when he was a toddler, he was obsessed with a Sinatra album she had called A Swinging Affair. “I would point to the photograph of Sinatra on the cover and say, let’s play the man in the hat, let me hear the man in the hat,” he says, laughing.
His passion for the man and the music has only grown over the years.
“I was initially attracted to the swinging Sinatra, the buoyant swinging Sinatra, but then as I became more of a fan, I also discovered this wonderful ballad singing that Sinatra did, particularly in the 1950s. I think it’s Sinatra’s interpretation of those great songs, his emotional connection to the material that he was so expert at expressing.
“You often got a feeling with Sinatra that he had experienced, or even was experiencing what he was singing about – and that leads to great involvement with the listener. So they are some of the reasons why I dig Frank.”
For Schneider, the connection with Doris Day includes deep admiration for the singer as a person.
“She’s just such an inspiration and such a survivor,” she says. “She’s just turned 95 on the third of April, and she’s just survived so much throughout life. In my individual show I’ve talked a lot about her four tumultuous marriages, her movie career – she’s just an absolute inspiration, really.”
Warner Bros. © 1954, Young at Heart
Part of Doris Day’s attraction is the enduring warmth that her singing evokes, adds Schneider.
“I think that her joy is the thing that you’re left with. I’ve always thought she was beautiful, and her songs are beautiful. Her persona and that beautiful smile and the joy that she exudes I think just makes people feel good, it makes them happy.”
Young at Heart will be at Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane during June. For information and tickets click here.
Are you a fan of Sinatra or Doris Day? What are your favourite songs?