As well as the unusual heat, the UK has also been bathed in the soulful music of Dusty Springfield throughout this Summer. The tour of ‘Dusty’ the world premiere of a landmark new musical about the life of Dusty Springfield has recently finished, however, after Kozzi went to see the production at The Lowry in Salford we couldn’t resist catching a moment with one of Dusty’s wardrobe team to ask about what its been like working on the show.
The musical draws on personal memories of those who knew Dusty best and features many of her blazingly soulful pop hits, including I Only Want to Be with You, Son of a Preacher Man and You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me.
With a fiercely funny and emotionally charged script from BAFTA and Olivier nominated writer Jonathan Harvey (Beautiful Thing, Coronation Street), DUSTY celebrates the extraordinary and vivacious woman whose timeless voice immortalised her as “one of Britain’s most successful female singers” (The Telegraph).
Amy Smith, wardrobe deputy on ‘Dusty’, spoke to Kozzii about her experience on the show earlier this year.
What was your job role on Dusty?
On Dusty, I was the wardrobe deputy, so my role consisted mostly of assisting the head of wardrobe with the running of the department, helping set up the show, writing dressing plots and helping the dressers. During the show, I had my own extensive dressing plot – which was to dress Dusty herself.
What was it like to set up a brand new musical from scratch?
Setting up a new musical was a great learning curve for me, it’s a lot of hard work, but to then see the show come together as it did and get wonderful reviews was such a good feeling. In terms of actually setting up the show, there was a lot to do, with such a fast-paced show almost all the ensemble costumes had to be extensively rigged for quick changes, there was more magnet tape than you could possibly imagine! We were very lucky to set the show up in Bath, despite the difficult venue, because the dressers were fantastic, they wrote extremely comprehensive plots, that were easy to follow once we went on tour and were a really great team to work with.
Describe your average day once the show was on tour?
Because the show was so big and there was a lot of maintenance and very busy dressing plots, we ended up adding two assistants to the department, this meant that we could alternate laundry calls. So the average day was much easier, it meant two less dressing plots to teach new dressers each week, and two more people keeping an eye on what was going on backstage. It also freed up the head of wardrobe to concentrate on any admin that needed to be done.
What was tech week like? Did you have to do anything extra to do with your job role? Anything unusual?
Tech week is almost always hell on earth, and this was no exception. There’s just always so much to do, it’s such long hours, a lot of waiting around and stress. For Dusty, the big difficulty was that things were constantly changing, costumes were being cut and replaced, which then meant that the new costumes had to be rigged and altered, this made trying to write plots and organize quick change areas more difficult because we couldn’t concentrate fully on what was happening backstage. Having said that, tech is always a difficult and high-pressure situation and you just have to take what it throws at you in your stride and work through it.
What was it like working backstage and on tour?
I love working backstage, I love the camaraderie that happens backstage and I love the atmosphere and you get that on every job. So far in my career, all my experience of touring has been weekly, which can be tiring, so I’m looking forward to experiencing a longer tour and actually being able to unpack my suitcase sometimes!
Dusty had great reviews, do you think it has potential to go to London?
I absolutely think it has potential to transfer, it’s a great show, it had great reviews and did well at the box office and I see no reason why it wouldn’t be picked up when a suitable theatre becomes available. Especially when you consider how well these sorts of shows do, my next job is on the Thriller Live tour which is about to celebrate it’s ten year anniversary in the West End, and Dusty Springfield was such a huge icon, and I think her story is very powerful and resonates with a lot of different people.
What was your favourite part when working on this show?
My favourite part of working on this show was working with Kat (Kathrine Kingsley who played Dusty), she is so talented and so easy to work with, and she had such passion for the role she was playing, an incredibly talented actress and a lovely person.
What were your favourite costumes and why?
My favourite costume was Dusty’s 70’s outfit. The scene is Dusty performing “Spooky” as part of her Vegas residency and she is wearing white boots, white flared trousers and a sparkly green tunic with huge flared sleeves, it was great! Another would be the simple black trousers and a black shirt, tied in a knot, with black pumps. Quintessentially 60’s, simple and sexy. Kat even made joggers and a purple cardy look stylish though!
You are working on an officer and a Gentleman now, how do the two compare and do you have a favourite?
Every show is different and throws up different challenges and Officer is no exception, I think though, I would have to say that Dusty was my favourite because I was on it from the start and helped set it up. Unfortunately, the wardrobe department on Officer had gone through a lot of changes, so there was a lot to do to make the department run more efficiently, however, once we had made the necessary changes it was a great job to work on.