Amy Lehpamer’s stunning performance as Dusty Springfield is one of many highlights of The Production Company’s musical Dusty.
The many, varied and often extremely colorful costumes are also a standout of the show, playing at Arts Centre Melbourne.
Then there are the performances of other cast members including Elenoa Rokobard as Dusty’s love interest, Reno, and Baylie Carson as Mary O’Brien (the young Dusty).
As the name suggests, Dusty is the story of Springfield – or Mary O’Brien as she was christened – who transformed herself from a shy youngster to one of pop music’s greatest female stars.
The musical was originally written in 2006 by Australian writers John-Michael Howson, David Mitchell and Melvyn Morrow.
Dusty’s story is told through conversations between the old and young Dusty, by those close to her – including her hairdresser Rodney (Todd McKenney) and dresser Peg (Virginia Gay) – and through her own songs.
The show features around 30 numbers including many of Dusty’s hits such as I Only Want To Be With You, Wishin’ and Hopin’, The Look of Love, You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me, I Just Don’t Know What to Do With Myself and Son of a Preacher Man.
Mixing fact and fiction, the musical plots Dusty’s life, from her time as an insecure child to her death from breast cancer. We follow her career from her first professional job, singing with an all-girl group, the Lana Sisters, to joining with her brother in the folk-pop band, the Springfields, to her highly successful solo career. We learn of her lesbian relationship with Reno, her battles with depression and her heavy drug and alcohol use.
As with all Production Company shows, Dusty is colorful, well-acted and brilliantly choreographed. Lehpamer shows her great singing and acting skills and easily carries the show. Rokobaro and O’Brien also give strong performances while Anne Wood and Tyler Coppin show their versatility in playing several characters, including Dusty’s parents.
The many and varied costumes and choreography perfectly illustrate the changing social and cultural times of Dusty’s professional life, a period which spanned around 30 years.
As well as providing a most entertaining night at the theatre, Dusty also piqued my interest in learning more about Springfield and revisiting the music of the 1960s – which is always a good sign when you’re watching a show based on a `real’ person!
Dusty the Musical is playing at Arts Centre Melbourne’s Playhouse until December 4. From 31 December to 22 January it’s on at the Adelaide Festival Theatre.
Visit the Production Company website for more information and tickets.
Jenny Burns attended the opening night of Dusty as a guest of the Production Company.