Doherty Brings Mamas & The Papas To Life On Stage

Amid hit '60s singles such as "Monday, Monday" and "California Dreamin'," the members of the Mamas and the Papas were as known for their off-stage lives and liaisons. More than 30 years later, origina

Amid hit '60s singles such as "Monday, Monday" and "California Dreamin'," the members of the Mamas and the Papas were as known for their off-stage lives and liaisons. More than 30 years later, original group member Denny Doherty is bringing his version of the Mamas and the Papas' soap opera history back to California in a stage production.

"Dream a Little Dream: The Nearly True Story of the Mamas and the Papas", created by and starring Doherty, will make its American debut in Los Angeles later this fall. The two-act show featuring Doherty, a six-piece band and 350 images (some from private collections), previously played in Doherty's hometown of Halifax, Nova Scotia, and is now wrapping up a summer run at Toronto's Isabel Bader Theatre. For the former Papa, this concept seemed a much better method than putting pen to paper.

"Well, everyone wanted me to write a book. John (Phillips) wrote a book, Michelle (Phillips) wrote a book, everybody writes books, so get a book deal," Doherty tells Billboard.com. "Books, books, books. 'Bulls--t!' I said, books you don't write by yourself, you have somebody you write with them. You have an editor. It's not yours when it ends up coming out in book form; 17 people have had their hands on it. So, I wanted to tell a story to live people in a theatre setting."

In 1994, Doherty began creating the show by "banging out stories" for nearly two years. Ending up with some 26 hours of material, Doherty and director/co-creator Paul Ledoux edited various tales into a two- hour production, starting with Doherty's birth in 1940 and ending with the death of Ellen Naomi Cohen, better known as "Mama" Cass Elliot.

"Cass died in 1974, but when you talk to people today about the Mamas and Papas, the first thing that pops into your head is the vision of Mama Cass," Doherty says. "So I wanted to tell the story of the group but also to tell the story with the slant of how important Cass was to everybody's lives because she's been overlooked.

"I try and get that across about how strong Cass was despite all the bulls--t," he continues. "I would open the fridge and the light would go on and Cass would want to work. It was less than fun at times but it's like you're in a bridled cage: you're rock stars and have all the stuff in the world you want. You know people would kill to be on the big ride, but a lot of people don't know what was happening on the inside. Inside it was like 'As the World Turns,' 'All My Children' were going to wind up in 'General Hospital.'"

Doherty likes the idea of taking the show to Los Angeles, or "Mecca" as he calls it. But he's also open to taking the show around the world. He says he's still amazed at the band's enduring popularity.

"We've been contacted by people in Scandinavia," he says. "All around the world our music is still being played. In Bosnia and Croatia and that portion of the world, wars are going on and I'm getting royalty statements. They're selling CDs in the middle of the Bosnian war!"