by Chris Cowey, Madpan Entertainments Ltd and Kim Weild.
The Arches Villiers Street WC2N 6NL To 21 November 2015.
Tue-Sat 7.30pm Mat Wed, Thu 2.30pm Sat 3pm.
Runs 2hr One interval.
TICKETS : 08444 930 650.
Review: Carole Woddis 7 Sept 2015:
Oh dear, how can we be sure this ain’t going to light-up the town? Maybe the venue gives a clue – the Charing Cross Theatre once the home of The Players Theatre and still bearing marks of its music hall antecedents, if shabbily so. And then there are the wigs. A more distressed crop of thatches it would be hard to find.
The show, as the title suggests, is a tribute compilation to the one and only Dusty Springfield. No one deserves one more than she – as one character puts it, our very own blue-eyed queen of soul.
To see her once again, in video snatches, is to be reminded of the richness and timbre of the voice, the sheer charisma she exuded in the ‘60s: graceful, iconic in empire-line frocks and those hairstyles, beehived and ringletted to within an inch of their lives.
But a diva’s lot is not always a happy one. Dusty, the musical, attempts to show us – if mildly – the unhappy star inside the diva, within the story of how Catholic Ealing teenager, Mary Isobel Catherine O’Brien, became Dusty Springfield super-star. It does so through live performance, video clips and a supposed interview with Dusty’s best friend, Nancy Jones.
Nancy, a good sort, stays loyal despite Dusty’s increasingly complex life – and Nancy’s own marriage. Cue for one of Dusty’s famous torch-songs of lost love. Was Nancy the love of her life, after all?
Dusty certainly amounts to a celebration of girl-power and Dusty’s alter ego is more than ably portrayed by Alison Arnopp, with Francesca Jackson’s Nancy. Both sing with warmth and often sound remarkably like Dusty.
The ensemble do their stuff, as ensembles always do, and the amalgam of pre-recording and live musicians on the whole works well enough.
But the company are fighting a losing battle with a script so lacking in shape or vitality it’s beyond dire. Even the video clips are out of synch. Dusty the perfectionist, the ground-breaker, must be spinning in her grave.
Tribute shows can work very well as a recent spate confirm. Sadly, this one doesn’t.
Dusty/Mary O’Brien: Alison Arnopp.
Nancy Jones: Francesca Jackson.
Dave Dean: Harvey Robinson.
Johnny Franz: Matt Blaker.
Dion O’Brien/Tom Springfield: Leo Elso.
Douggie Reece: Luke Thornton.
Kay O’Brien: Ellen Verenieks.
Gerard `OB’ O’Brien: Graham Kent.
Vic Billings: Oliver Lynes.
Lynne Abrams/Female Ensemble: Megan Makin.
Maddie/Female Ensemble: Jemma Geanaus.
Norma/Female Ensemble: Sienna Sebek:.
Martha/Female Ensemble: Witney White.
Female Ensemble: Amanda Digón Mata.
Female swing: Nikkola Burnhope.
Male swing: Jonathan de Mallet .
Director: Chris Cowey.
Co-director/Choreographer: Joey McKneely.
Designer: Phil Lindley.
Lighting: Richard Williamson.
Sound: Paul Gavin, James Nicholson.
Orchestrations/Additional Arrangements: Noam Galperin.
Musical Supervisor: Dean Austin.
Holographs: Vicky Godfrey, Red Karavan.
Costume: Jason Kealer.
Wigs: Darren Evans.
Dance Captain: Amanda Digón Mata.
Dramaturg: Jack Bradley.
Associate Musical director: Josh Sood.
Additional direction: Christian Durham.
Associate director: Ben Woolf.
(Eventual) world premiere of Dusty Charing Cross Theatre London 7 September 2015.