Theater Review: Forever Dusty
Kristen Holly Smith embodies the late English pop star in this musical love letter
For fans of Dusty Springfield, Forever Dusty is a love letter to the late, great, English pop star. A true passion project that has been in the works in one form or another since 2006, Forever Dusty finds a suitable home at the New World Stages. Kirsten Holly Smith, who stars as Dusty and also co-wrote the book, really inhabits Springfield, right down to her vocal inflections and mannerisms.
The show takes the audience on a journey through four decades of Dusty Springfield’s life, using her music to move the plot forward. All of Dusty’s big hits, including Son of a Preacher Man, Just a Little Loving and You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me, as well as a few of her lesser known ballads, are featured. The four piece quartet that accompanies Forever Dusty is fantastic, filling the small theatre with lush sounds and easily transitioning styles.
Smith is a vocal powerhouse who appears at home during the musical numbers. She appears less comfortable with the non-musical moments, however, and struggles a bit to connect with the ensemble members. This is particularly evident in her scenes with longtime lover Claire, played beautifully by Christina Sajous. The chemistry between the women is notably absent, even as Sajous does her best to create a spark.
This may be due to the brevity of the production as a whole. Clocking in at around 90 minutes with no intermission and chock full of musical numbers, there simply isn’t adequate time for important moments and connections to develop. The set and lighting design, with its wonderful use of projections, help the show transition seamlessly from scene to scene, all the while being on a fixed stage. While the script may not be the strongest, the show is still an enjoyable trip through the struggles and triumphs of the bold and brave chanteuse.
Forever Dusty is playing an open run at The New World Stages, 340 W 50th St, btw 8th and 9th Aves). Tickets are $59-$79. For more info, visit foreverdusty.com.