60s icon head­lines own show


The sig­na­ture smokey kohl eyes and blonde bee­hive hair of singer Dusty Spring­field is set for the Palmer­ston North stage.

Fa­mous for songs such as I Just Don’t Know What to Do With My­self, Son of a Preacher Man and Wishin’ and Hopin‘, Spring­field with her trou­bled life, was the orig­i­nal pop diva.

The Aus­tralian penned biopic Dusty - the Orig­i­nal Pop Diva opens on Abbey Musical The­atre’s Cen­ten­nial Dr Au­di­to­rium this week.

Show di­rec­tor, de­signer, chore­og­ra­pher and cos­tu­mier Ian Har­man said the musical cov­ers the Bri­tish singer’s life from child­hood to her death from can­cer in 1999.

‘‘It cov­ers the highs and lows of her life, which was quite tu­mul­tuous re­ally.’’

Born Mary O’Brien, and orig­i­nally in a folk duo with her brother Tom, and later with him in a pop­u­lar folk trio called The Spring­fields, the singer found her sex­u­al­ity counted against her.

Un­lucky in love, and de­spite solo suc­cess, Spring­field re­treated from the pres­sures of fame and pub­lic ex­pec­ta­tion into drugs, al­co­hol abuse and clin­i­cal de­pres­sion. She re-emerged in the 80s to record What Have I Done To De­serve This? with the Pet Shop Boys.

‘‘If you think of Amy Winehouse, sex­u­al­ity is­sues, and how we treat peo­ple in gen­eral, her story is re­ally quite cur­rent. It jux­ta­poses pub­lic per­cep­tion with the singer’s pri­vate life.’’

Tack­ling the chal­leng­ing lead role is lo­cal singer and Globe Award-win­ning ac­tor for her role in Mamma Mia!, Amy Hunt.

‘‘Amy is in­cred­i­ble. She has an amaz­ing voice and does great jus­tice to the way Dusty sings as well as cap­tur­ing the nu­ances of her char­ac­ter,’’ Har­man said. ‘‘There are a lot of in­tense and con­trast­ing emo­tions as the show moves back and forth through her life. It’s like a movie mon­tage piece.’’

Told from sev­eral per­spec­tives, Read Wheeler plays Rod­ney, Dusty’s hair­dresser and con­fi­dant, with Can­dace Hig­gie as Peg, the singer’s best friend. Han­nah Sand­brook plays young Dusty, aka Mary O’Brien.

Dusty - the Orig­i­nal Pop Diva runs at The Au­di­to­rium un­til De­cem­ber 10.

Songstress Amy Hunt plays 60s Brit pop diva Dusty Spring­field in the stage musical ‘‘Dusty’’.

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