To those of us of a certain age, Dusty Springfield was the Adele of the 1960s. A hugely successful singer who had a string of hit singles and albums in the 60s and enjoyed something of a renaissance during the 1980s before her untimely death at the age of 59 in 1999.
As a lifelong fan of Dusty, it was with great anticipation that I attended Forever Dusty, a musical dramatization of her life written by Kirsten Holly Smith. The musical encapsulated the successful and troubled times of this flawed genius, not pulling any punches when dealing with her sexual orientation, her opposition to racism and her fight with alcohol addiction.
The play commences with the perfectionist Dusty driving producer Jerry Wexler to distraction whilst recording ‘Son of a Preacher Man’. The play then flashed back to her early life in a North London Convent School and proceeded to show her success in The Springfields and her bitter break up from brother Tom. The first act ended with her performing ‘You Don’t Have to Say you Love me’ on her TV show.
The second act dealt with her downward spiral into alcoholism, the break up with her ‘dear friend’ Clare Bennet, her success with the Pet Shop Boys in the 1980s and then her sad decline due to cancer. Apart from the live performances, which featured most of her big hits, images from her life were shown on a big screen at the back of the stage.
The performances, from the band to the four supporting actors (who all played multiple roles) and Dusty herself – played with great enthusiasm by Katherine Beaumont – were very good. The standard of singing was of a very high standard. For lovers of 1960s music I would recommend this musical.
Performances until Saturday 6th May