BY MICHAEL SOMMERS
OFF BROADWAY REVIEW
Love that smoky voice of Dusty Springfield? “Forever Dusty” is a new bio-musical about the British queen of blue-eyed soul, but you probably will have a better time listening to one of her greatest-hits collections at home than sitting through this so-what event at New World Stages.
A behind-the-music sketch of the singer’s life and times, “Forever Dusty” stars Kirsten Holly Smith, who co-scripted the semi-fictional show with Jonathan Vankin.
Sporting the singer’s trademark blond helmet of hair and midnight eye shadow, Smith vaguely resembles Springfield and even at times sounds somewhat like her, but lacks much of the dynamic musicality and emotional edge that characterizes the genuine article’s distinctive artistry. Worse, Smith really isn’t much of an actress and cannot breathe convincing life into the woman she tries to portray.
The story is told partly in flashback from 1968 when the singer was experiencing problems in the studio while recording “Son of a Preacher Man.” So we hear about Springfield’s early girl-group beginnings in the late 1950s and then her folk-pop times with her brother before she became a solo star with “I Only Want to be With You.” And so the hits roll out as Springfield’s career rises and falls and then rises again.
Troubles with liquor and drugs, affairs with women, trying to get the right echo to her voice for “You Don’t Have To Say You Love Me” and her unlikely teaming with the Pet Shop Boys on “What Have I Done to Deserve This?” are among the instances in Springfield’s life covered in 90 minutes and 20 or so songs.
Director Randal Myler employs a modest array of projected images to visually beef up this perfunctory showcase for a less than charismatic performer that likely will have you wishin’ and hopin’ you were somewhere else.
“Forever Dusty” continues at New World Stages, 340 W. 50th St., New York. Call (212) 239-6200 or visit www.foreverdusty.com.