Dusty is the first “authorised” musical regarding the troubled life of Springfield, the script is based is based on notes and memoirs from her manager Vicki Wickham and also interviews with her personal assistant Pat Rhodes and record company executive Tris Penna.
Director Maria Friedman has worked hard with the patchy script which without the compelling titular performance from Katherine Kingsley it might all be a less impressive show. There are moments which transcend others to create an intimacy and intensity that reflects where this brand new musical will no doubt find itself over the coming months. The opening scenes imply it will be yet another interactive juke box type musical however this belies the more impressive sincerity which the tale is asking for and is shown episodically; this clash of style so early on takes time to resolve and likewise for the script to settle.
The onstage band is superb under the direction of Tim Sutton whilst the well-known score is sung with utter commitment and brilliance by the company. Joanna Francis as Lois is outstanding as Dusty’s lover with vocals that can definitely raise the roof.
Whilst the story is a whistle stop tour of Dusty’s life which takes in the insular diva, the political trailblazer as well as her torrid emotional state versus worldwide persona; there is little concrete placing of the key life moments; the projection is a great trick yet the woolly referencing to time passing frustrating. The exuberant choreography by Tim Jackson keeps the excellent company involved in the ongoing story providing some inspired transitions.
There is much to like in this vibrant, energetic production which will no doubt prove to be a regional success.