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Review Round-Ups

'Summer is over' as critics pan Dusty

The jukebox musical of Dusty Springfield's life finally opens in the West End

Alison Arnopp as Dusty
(© Elliott Franks)

Holly Williams, WhatsOnStage


"For many musical numbers, Arnopp exits the stage, so we can all watch some projected archive film footage of the real Dusty. Or even, a hologram of Dusty, brought uncannily back to life in less-than-glorious 3D. This is technically impressive as a party trick; theatrically, it's inert."

"It also makes you wonder why the producers are bothering with performances at all – clearly they have no faith in the power of theatre to adequately recreate the magic of Dusty."

"The script (Kim Weild, Duncan Sibbald and Chris Cowey all get writing credits) is schlocky, and we don't see much of the darkness of Dusty's life beyond some mildly diva-ish behaviour."

Ann Treneman, The Times

"as I sat and watched what at times resembled a tribute group gone seriously wrong, I felt that maybe a few more weeks of previews may have been needed. Or more than a few."

"There are the actors, the dancers, the musicians, the awful wigs (they really need their very own show). Then there is the unreal stuff, the old TV footage of Dusty and, yes, the Dusty hologram. And they are all singing/playing/prancing together."

"By the end, I just wanted to escape. Dusty deserves better than this."

Claire Allfree, Daily Telegraph

"You can't help but wonder what the creative team behind this new Dusty musical have been doing during the three months of previews before it finally opened in the West End. Certainly not much by way of intensive script development, set design or thought into how to rejuvenate the exhausted jukebox musical genre."

"You get a small sense of how lonely she was, too. Yet the production is imaginatively bankrupt on almost every count. It's not remotely interested in the complex, self-harming and agonisingly unstable Dusty behind the heavily manicured public mask, for instance."

"You can't blame the cast for this stunningly mediocre production"

Quentin Letts, Daily Mail

"The show has already been going for some three months. Lord knows what sort of state it was in when it began."

"The Department of Bungling and Ineptitude throws everything at it: off-key brass playing, missed cues, duff wigs, feedback (ouch!) and a script clunkier than Henry Cooper's left hook."

"Dusty Springfield herself was a perfectionist. What did she do to deserve this travesty?"

Paul Taylor, The Independent


"'I made my peace with disappointment a long time ago,' declares a producer when he realises that the Queen of blue-eyed soul is defecting to Atlantic Records. The line elicits a delighted cackle from the audience. It's typical of the doggedly wooden dialogue in this juke-box tuner with its pedestrian format."

"Yet I have to confess to a sneaking affection for the show"

"the live bustle of the production keeps reminding you of the husky-voiced distinctiveness of the original that Alison Arnopp's impersonation can't hope to emulate. But hers is a gutsily-sung, courageous performance and there are elating sequences midst the dross of the book"

Dusty continues at the Charing Cross Theatre until 21 November 2015.