Saturday, 16 August 1997

I Only Want to Be With You- The Dusty Springfield Story, Aug 16, 1997

I Only Want to Be With You- The Dusty Springfield Story
 devised by Terry O'Connell Comedy Club 
Reviewed by Kate Herbert around Aug 15, 1997

My neighbouring table at The Dusty Springfield Story had travelled from Adelaide especially for the show and a Melbourne weekend. Now that's dedication.

 The eight of them had a ball, doing the Hitchhiker, the Swim, clapping in time and singing along with Wendy Stapleton and The Stayawhiles.

 Stapleton plays the Diva Dusty in a 60's wig- and costume-fest, the wackier outfits being designed by Laurel Frank. The list of hits is peppered with self-narration, some schmaltzy filler and interesting anecdotes about her childhood, early career with her brother (who wrote 'Georgie Girl') and her eventual image change.

Dusty's hits were manifold and Stapleton gives them new life with her rich and powerful voice. Hers is not an impersonation of Dusty's voice but the tone and style are accurate. She is engaging and warm to the audience who loved her. Her performance is relaxed as only a seasoned professional can be. This show has toured for two years and still has energy and life.

Dusty's hit song list is formidable but the Bert Bacharach/Hal David songs are my favourites: 24 Hours from Tulsa, The Look of Love, This Girl's in Love with You, Anyone who had a Heart. If a song made her weep, she recorded it.

She reveals her struggle to overcome her past as little Mary O'Brien, who looked like a librarian, and to maintain her stage persona as 'the blue-eyed soul singer' as the U.S. dubbed her.

Gossips will relish snippets about Dusty's alcoholism and drug abuse and reputed homosexuality.  She is an icon for gay men and women. The patter has oblique references to lesbianism: "I followed the women's tennis circuit", and later more specific references to her sexual preference.

Musical director, Robert Gavin has wonderful arrangements and is a significant, unobtrusive presence at the grand piano. Backing vocalists, The Stayawhiles, choreographed by Alana Scanlan, have fab voices, lame' minis and the best legs outside Carnaby Street.  Their medleys set the context for 60's U.K. and U.S.

Director, Terry O'Connell, keeps the pace up apart from some dull early patter and utilises Alistair Fleming's set that includes slides of Dusty at various stages of stardom and decline.

If you were there in the 60's or you're a retro aficionado you'll love this show. The Finale, 'You don't have to say you love me' is hot.

By Kate Herbert

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