I read recently that the first draft of Dusty didn't get the big toothy grin and double-thumbs jerking skywards from the late singer's friends. The exact response, according to one of the writers (professional gossip hound and campy socialite John Michael Howson) was something along the lines of "you haven't captured her at all!".
I would love to read that draft. I can't imagine how it could have gone wrong. Not when the final version included an exchange so molar-impactingly awful that it will probably have quite a few dentists throwing their little mouth mirror things across the room in disgust and despair in the coming weeks.
Allow me to recount the scene ('scene' is industry talk for 'bit' - I sometimes forget that not all readers are in The Biz). Dusty Springfield is about to go on tour to Australia. She complains to her gay hairdresser friend (is there any other kind?) that she's getting a bit too chubby to tour. And he replies that it's ok, THEY ALREADY HAVE ONE SLIM DUSTY IN AUSTRALIA.
Here's me after hearing that line:
Anyway, it's taken me a week to write on the show, but not for any interesting reason. I enjoyed it quite a lot, though there are huge gaps and oversights and misjudged plot maneuvers. It's a musical, however, so I'm willing to give it some slack since the musical isn't my preferred genre and I'm not as qualified to judge their worth or lack thereof. For my money, some toe-tappin' tunes and a bag of spirit fingers are enough. Dusty already came with the music in the bag, and it wasn't long in before a saw a scene in which about twenty people were all doing slow spirit fingers around the show's star, so I felt I'll gotten what I asked for.
Tamsin Carroll might well win a whole heap of awards for her role as Dusty; especially when you consider that she's only 26. It's an amazing performance for someone so young, and though she doesn't try to replicate the singer's vocal style exactly, she can sure belt out a number. In spoken sections, she does an incredibly unnerving accent which I've since been told is pretty faithful to Springfield, but nonetheless had me worried that she'd been listening to water-damaged tapes of the singer or something.
The opening night after party was an epicentre of Melbourne artistic elite, if you interpret the word 'artistic' to mean 'recognisable' and the word 'elite' to mean 'nobodies'. Lots of Aussie Idols, ex-TV celebrities, music industry old guard and the like. I won't name names because I don't do that sort of thing (remember them, I mean). But I was most impressed to see even JM Howson making an appearance and eagerly answering questions from admiring young things.
The food was okay: leek and gorgonzola arancini things; basil, cheese and tomato 'panini' (I'd call 'em 'toasties') and party pies topped with some kind of salsa (they called them 'beef and burgundy' but they sure as hell looked 'four and twenty' to me).
But I didn't stay long. My significant other/girlfriend/main squeeze/whatever the terminology is these days and I hoofed it off before the speeches, because there was only so much backslapping and belly-rubbing and metaphorical high-fiving we could handle. And there was also that other thing.
You know on those dark cold winter nights when you realise you've been idling in the car alone out the front of the house for about two hours, playing Hotel California over and over and remembering how it thrilled you in your youth before the responsibilities of life shoved all your dreams to one side, responsibilities which are now lying in bed inside that heavily mortgaged house wondering where you are and why you always seem so distant nowadays and have taken to strumming that old guitar in the shed for entire weekends, not uttering a word or making eye contact, and how you wish you could go back and do things differently because now you've dug yourself into a hole you can't get out of? And how you could have been a contender, a real musician, and how they should have been writing musicals about YOU goddammit! You know that feeling?
No, me neither. But I think a lot of the people at that party might.
I'm not making accusations. Supposition and vague aspertion-casting are more my forte.