Dusty Springfield Was More Complex Than You Think

Categories: Theater

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I told you yesterday about Forever Dusty, starring Kirsten Holly Smith (pictured below) as the immortal singer and activist Dusty Springfield.

Well, if you were wishin' and hopin' for more about the late, great singer, here's what Smith has to say about what makes her a fascinating subject for a 90-minute stage show.


"My fascination with Dusty starts with her voice. I was instantly struck by the depth of feeling in her sound. I had to know where it came from. I think that was the first thing that drew me to her. I think that it is difficult to separate Dusty from her talent, just like any great artist.

"In Dusty's case, she was truly two separate people. The onstage persona that she developed, Dusty Springfield, and the offstage Mary Isobel Catherine Bernadette O'Brien. She fought to reconcile these two very different parts of who she was her entire life.

"I think in the end she finally did realize that it wasn't one or the other that made her who she was. It was finding a deep level of self-acceptance, which is one of the major themes of our show.

"I've been studying Dusty for many years now. I have even written a full screenplay (with Jonathan Vankin, who also co-wrote the Off Broadway musical) about Dusty's life, that made the finals of the Sundance Lab selection process two years in a row. But every time I go back to my research, I discover something about Dusty that I did not know before.

"There are so many aspects of Dusty's life that fascinate me, I could write a thesis on her, but I'm doing an Off Broadway show instead--which let's be honest, is a lot more fun!"


And furthermore:

"She fought, in her life, for what she felt was right in this world, for the decent and ethical treatment of people (and animals; she was a big animal rights advocate). But she was simply unable to treat herself as well and beautifully as she wanted people to treat each other.

"In a business where, especially in her era, an artist was expected to have a life-span of just a few years, Dusty put together a career that lasted from the late 1950s until the mid-1990s. Yes, her career had its struggles, some of them caused by the music business, and many her own fault. But she never gave up until she could not, physically, go on, due to the cancer that ultimately ended her life at the too-young age of 59."

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14 comments
bri_ein
bri_ein

 Mary Isobel Catherine Bernadette O'Brien, what a name!  interesting article

aprilnyc1
aprilnyc1

Lady Bunny could play her mom, like Edna Turnblad.

RobertAllenFirth
RobertAllenFirth

I'd do off-Broadway, too, over Sundance Lab. 

 

(P.S. Let's not forget the Pet Shop Boys' work with Dusty, the great video/song "What Have I Done to Deserve This?"  It helped give her career a boost in the 1980s.)

johnsimone
johnsimone

She lived in Toronto for a period with legendary Rough Trade singer Carole Pope (Birds of a Feather, theme from Cruising, High School Confidential etc).

 

williamHK
williamHK

She was great and I like her records but I prefer Gayle McCormick of Smith fame, better, stronger voice and more varied styles of pop-rock music in her limited canon.

SouthernDave
SouthernDave

It was such a pleasure to meet and spend a little time with Dusty Springfield..

 

She didn' t want to do interviews when she played the Roosevelt Blue Room in New Orleans, (this must have been early 1970s), so she said she'd only talk to press after her two shows, at 1 a.m. or after. I was the only one who took her up on it and it wasn't so much an interview as a conversation and it went on for something like three hours.

 

How can you resist someone who sprawls on the floor with you and serves you tea and vodka and just free-associates about whatever pops into her head?

 

She said, "Look, turn off your tape recorder and put your pen down and if I say something that 's halfway interesting or  funny or worth saving, we'll write it down, all right? That way, we can talk like real people, not like we're doing a job. I did my job tonight. and you've been doing yours. Let's get something different from the same old Q&A."

 

Ms. Springfield, you were a doll.

 

Can't WAIT for the play!

williamHK
williamHK

 @RobertAllenFirth

 Best bridge ever "since you went away I've been hangin' around, I've been wonderin' why I'm feelin' down, you went away, that should make me feel better, but I don't know...oh...."

williamHK
williamHK

 @orchidclub

 "Flesh & Blood" is my fave, she really rocked out on that one.  Her last one "One More Hour" has some good stuff but is more lite FM.  She's still living in St. Louis!

williamHK
williamHK

 @orchidclub

 or do a tribute show.  She had a lot of good songs, "Minus-Plus" is another good album.

orchidclub
orchidclub

 @williamHK I agree that "Flesh & Blood" is her best solo album.  I heard that she works at Macy's now.  Somebody needs to get her back in the recording studio!

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