Show celebrates the life of Dusty
12:02pm Tuesday 10th September 2013 in What's On
DUSTY Springfield celebrates 50 years as a solo artist this year. The iconic singer, who for millions was the definitive pop diva, launched her first solo hit record ‘I Only Want to Be With You’ in 1963. Celebrating this fact is a new play by Derek Webb called ‘Call Me Dusty’ performed at Ammanford Miners' Theatre next week.
With Jessica Sandry in the title role, the play attempts to disentangle myth and facts, and begin to understand the very complex character who was Dusty Springfield.
She was born Mary Isabel Catherine Bernadette O’Brien – a shy, chubby, Catholic convent girl. Her mother was Irish, her father an accountant, she was brought up in West London and from a child was in love with the cinema and music: longing to be an actress like June Haver or a singer like Peggy Lee.
In 1960 she became part of the very successful trio called The Springfields with her brother Tom and his friend Tim Field and together they were the first British group to succeed in a big way in America.
But by 1963 she had decided to go solo and the legend that was Dusty Springfield was truly born. Many times voted Best Female Singer, Dusty Springfield achieved enormous worldwide fame.
Loving soul music, she was largely responsible for bringing Motown to the attention of a UK audience. A perfectionist who refused to compromise in the pursuit of the ultimate pop record, Dusty Springfield effectively was the producer on many of her recordings. And, while shy privately, she was often outspoken publicly. In 1964 she was one of the first to stand up against apartheid in South Africa and a few years later, she was to famously declare herself gay – something few would have dared to do at the time.
Despite the fame and success, however, Dusty’s personal life was full of drama and tragedy. Not only did she find her sexuality at odds with her Catholicism, but drugs and alcohol took their toll, and increasingly she began to self-harm.
'Call Me Dusty' explores the dichotomy of the quiet, shy private person and her alter ego with her extravagant black mascara and backcombed hair; while at the same time celebrating the music which still ranks amongst the best of its kind. Not for nothing is Dusty Springfield heralded as the finest white soul singer ever.
Jessica Sandry, who plays Dusty, is in the new series of Stella with Ruth Jones on Sky TV and her numerous stage appearances have included portraying another singing legend, Doris Day, in the acclaimed show Being Doris Day which toured nationally.
Playing her manager Vic Billings and other characters is James Scannell whose stage credits include Romeo & Juliet, The Caucasian Chalk Circle, Hamlet, A Christmas Carol, Romeo & Juliet, and Of Mice and Men. And playing Dusty’s secretary Pat Rhodes and other characters is Jayne Stillman, whose credits include Varya in The Cherry Orchard, Miss Ronberry in The Corn is Green and Emilia in Othello.
The play covers the time from when she first decided to reinvent herself as Dusty Springfield to a period in the early 1970s when she had seen the meteoric rise in her career begin to falter and decided to move to the US. Dusty herself in fact tried several times to reinvent herself, and achieved a reawakening in her fortunes and discovered a brand new fan base in the late 1980s when the Pet Shop Boys asked her to sing on the No 1 hit ‘What Have I Done to Deserve This?’. Dusty Springfield died of breast cancer in 1999 just short of her 60th birthday.
Call Me Dusty is produced by Ignition and plays at the Miners’ Theatre, Ammanford on Friday, September 20 starting at 7.30pm.
For tickets go to theatrausirgar.co.uk or ring the Box Office on 0845 226 3510.
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