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BLOG : Review: Dusty At The Charing Cross Theatre

Monday 29 June 2015

By Caroline Hanks-Farmer

This was my first visit to the Charing Cross Theatre and what a tiny but perfectly formed theatre it is. There is only one level and it is underground with the station up above. The auditorium was hot so I can only imagine how the cast were feeling under the lights, so it is even more credit to them that they did a superb job entertaining us.

I perhaps should point out that this is not like your average show. This is created around the incomparable Dusty Springfield (Ellie Ann Lowe) and her life which is told by her lifelong school friend Nancy Jones (Francesca Jackson). The majority of the singing is by projection of live performances of Dusty herself supported by fabulous dancers and acting.
 
It opens with an Interview scenario between Nancy Jones (Francesca Jackson) and Dave Dean (Stewart McCheyne). The interview runs throughout and describes both Dusty's life and the person behind the character. It is well acted and pulls the show together nicely. Francesca Jackson plays the lifelong friend and with great singing and interesting voice is perfect for the role.
 
Ellie Anne Lowe as iconic Dusty is superb, with fine acting and whilst Dusty does most of the singing the parts which we do hear demonstrate what a beautiful voice Lowe has, having graduated only last year from Guildford School of Acting, we can already see that Lowe will certainly be one to watch out for!
 
The ensemble are all strong with additionally notable performances by Allyson Ava-Brown (Martha) Danielle Kassarate (Maddie), Arabella Rodrigo (Norma) and Joan Walker (Kay O'Brien)
 
Choreography by Lyndon Lloyd was completely in-keeping with the era. It had some lovely moves and was utterly wonderful.
 
The set design by Phil Lindley was creative as was the dramaturgy by Jack Bradley. The projection was as if you had Dusty Springfield singing to you and for me highlighted what a great performer she was. This is also the reason why songwriting greats such as Burt Bacharach and Carole King were queuing up to write for her and testament to their kind comments in the show programme.
 
The second act opened with a hologram which was tremendous. Other holograms of "Son of a Preacher Man" and "The Look of Love" were also particular highlights for me.
 
What differentiates this show from other "Dusty" shows is it is not an impersonation it is as if Dusty' actually singing to you. The acting of Lowe gives you an amazing insight into a forward thinking, principled icon of our time. All the cast compliment and indeed show much reverence to Dusty.
 
This is a relatively short run and if you are a Dusty Springfield fan you simply should not miss seeing it.
 
Both the audience numbers and appreciation were disappointingly low last night and I was disappointed for the cast. However I was reliably informed by the person sat next to me (who was on his third visit) that previous audiences were more plentiful and demonstrative in their support, which is a relief to hear.
 
This cast works extremely hard and the medley at the end looked like they were truly celebrating their own idol. They all, especially Lowe and Jones, had "The Look of Love" for this production.

★★★★★

tags: Best Of British, Star Power, Limited Run, Hen Night, Something A Little Different


By Caroline Hanks-Farmer

Please note: Opinions expressed on the londontheatredirect.com blog are those of the relevant contributors, not of London Theatre Direct Ltd, its owners or staff. London Theatre Direct Ltd is not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information supplied by contributors.

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