Dusty – Katherine Kingsley
Billings/Ray – Rufus Hound
Kay – Roberta Taylor
Morgan – Adam Bailey
Pat – Esther Coles
Ruby – Ella Kenion
Kiki – Alex Bowen
Lois – Joanna Francis
Venue: Theatre Royal, Newcastle
Date: Tuesday 17th July 2018
This is a brand new Dusty Springfield musical and we have seemed to have a lot of them over the years, this one is not to be confused with the 2015 offering as having looked that did to receive good reviews. I also went to see Son of Preacher Man last year on a UK Tour and that is a different approach just using Dusty’s songs. This show is more of a life story and a closer look at the woman behind the icon.
I am not fully sure where my love for Dusty Springfield stemmed from exactly, but it would have been from hearing her songs in a film and then listening to more and more. I’m going to go with My Best Friends Wedding or First Wives Club as possibilities. Plus that links in so well with the songs used in the show, it meant I already knew and loved so many of them and was rather excited to see how they managed to fit them in a show that looks into her life. The good and the very bad of it all.
Dusty Springfield’s memory deserves a show just like this, with powerful moments and delivered in an incredible fashion by Katherine Kingsley who totally blew me away scene after scene. Dusty did not have a perfect life and the show is not afraid to show her suffering and problems. Even so much to touch on the mental state she ends up in and that is certainly something that we hear more about now. If it was talked about more all those years ago maybe people around her could have helped.
We were taken from her breakthrough as a solo artist in England to trying to crack America and being able to have the Motown sound. Falling in love with Lois and giving her a difficult relationship to deal with. Battling with drink, something she never really did at one point. I think that just shows how addictive it can really be. I loved the relationship with Pat her personal assistant and make up artist Ruby who really were made out to be good friends to her. Pat was very much real but Ruby was a made up character for the show. Billings her manager was a good character and Rufus Hound was very impressive in that role. I feel like I must mention ‘Wishin’ and Hopin’ which was done in such a fun way it really made me smile early on in the show, that is a pretty fun song. It was lighthearted and I think we needed that with how serious and dark some of the other moments and songs were.
Lois as her girlfriend and great love is seemingly made up as a combination of many relationships Dusty really had with women. I guess this is an easier way to show it on stage without getting too complicated and messy. Also don’t we need some make believe in a show instead of it all being facts?
I was left in tears at the end just to help clarify how utterly moving the production and performance was. Which I know probably seems like a strange thing considering I knew the ending. But I personally think that shows how much everything is built up and brought crashing down. The death scene had me on the edge and “You Don’t Have To Say You Love Me” totally pushed me over the edge. That song is a tough one to begin with if you really listen to the words.
A well deserved standing ovation at the end for the whole cast who really do have a special show. I seriously hope this one keeps going and gets all the praise it so rightly deserves. I liked the way the songs were not just done as performances from Dusty and shared with other characters as I think that creates for a better overall show, similar to Beautiful: The Carole King musical which I was really pleased about.
Katherine Kingsley really does have a fantastic voice and is given the chance to show off her Dusty with so many of her classic hits that we all know and love. The acting side was as equally impressive as she had to take the journey through alcoholism and drug addiction. Then entering into self harming and the mental problems she suffered from. This is traumatic to watch unfold on stage from the happier moments in the first act. The second act is a lot darker and just shows that anyone can end up struggling with life, no matter who you are.
This really is a special show and I will be closely following it, as this has been a very short UK tour but hopefully we will see it on stage in the West End in the near future. For more information about the show check out the website here.