‘Covered in Dusty’ The Many Musicals about Dusty Springfield

Three Dusty musicals will be produced in as many years. Is there demand or is it overkill of a popular artist’s back catalogue.

It was announced on March 13 that Craig Revel Horwood will be directing Son of a Preacher Man, which will our Churchill Theatre and other dates throughout Autumn 2017.This production, produced by Brian Berg, John Sachs, Andrew Berg and Kimberley Sachs for Eclipse Live, Michael Park for the Infinite Group, Paul Tyrer and Jamie Clark for TBO Productions, Churchill Theatre Bromley and executive producers Andrew Green and Ben White, all on behalf of Dusty Touring Ltd is not to be mixed up with Eleanor Lloyd’s Production, which will debut in 2018 with Maria Friedman directing.

Some of you will also remember the critically-panned Dusty, which finally had its press night three months after previews began after cast and crew changes. A critically panned musical about a real-life figure can affect their reputation as much as their antics (Poor Stephen Ward, as if his end wasn’t sad enough). There is clearly demand for a good Dusty musical, with the right story it could be a long running hit but I worry audiences will be all ‘Dusted’ out.

What does a Dusty musical need to work? Casting is key to a good musical, how many actresses have a voice as incredible and as rich as Dusty’s? The music is the obvious one, do you do a Motown or an upcoming Bat out of Hell and include EVERYTHING so the audience has at least one song that they know/love. No, no musical should do this and Dusty has enough up and down tempo songs to reflect the many changes in her life but whichever musical does “What I have Done to Deserve This” will get 5 stars from me.

2015’s effort only coyly mentioned her lesbianism and quite simply it should have been more open and was one of its downfalls. If these upcoming musicals are to work then it needs to embrace Dusty as she was, not a fantasy character that helps them sell tickets.

I wish both productions all the best, new British musicals do not have a great track record, and I hope both productions acknowledge that some great songs and popular artist is not all that is needed to make a great musical.

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