Taihape people step up to challenge

By Lin Ferguson

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SINGING DUSTRY: Kirsty Fannin will play the lead role in the Taihape production of Dusty - the Original Pop Diva.
SINGING DUSTRY: Kirsty Fannin will play the lead role in the Taihape production of Dusty - the Original Pop Diva.

HAWKE'S Bay theatre and musical director Wendy Revell says a musical homage to Dusty Springfield is probably the last show she will direct for Taihape.

Even though she loves coming to Taihape, staying from Sundays to Wednesday for the three to four-month rehearsal period, she feels it's getting a bit much for her now. "It's very tiring, even though I love every minute of it while I'm here."

Wendy lived in Taihape years ago before moving to Napier and still has family there.

Directing a show for the Taihape Drama Club was always so rewarding, she said. "Well, most of the cast haven't had a lot of experience. Many haven't even been on stage before."

Dusty - The Original Pop Diva, described as an Australian jukebox musical based on the life of Dusty Springfield, will play at the Taihape Town Hall from April 13-16.

Dusty's greatest hits, including The Windmills of Your Mind, Son of a Preacher Man and You Don't Have to Say You Love Me, are featured in the show.

Playing the lead role is Kirsty Fannin - mum of four, farmer's wife and part-time bank teller in Taihape.

"She is working very hard and is going to be fabulous," Wendy said.

And Kirsty said she is very pleased to playing the role but admits it's a load of hard work.

"But I'm lucky I have a very understanding family."

Treading the boards of the very first time in the ensemble is Maclayn Witika age 16 and a student at Taihape Area school.

Even though he's enjoying being in the play he admits his mother "made me do it".

"She did. She made me get in the car and go to auditions and would not take no for an answer. She said it was time I learned to move on stage and that it would be good for me."

However, he's not familiar with the music of Dusty Springfield. "Bit old for me."

But singing back-up and learning how to be onstage has been interesting, he said.

"And that's what my mum wanted me to learn."

Wendy said Maclayn is a lovely singer and has great personality.

"We have a few men in the show this year. I even managed talk the local doctor into coming in."

The back story of Dusty is that, in the 1950s, she was a star-struck, plain and dumpy London schoolgirl who believed she could become a glamorous movie idol.

Her parents told her not to dream the impossible dream.

But nothing deterred her and, because she had an amazing voice and talent, she set out to become a singer and star. Soon, plain Mary O'Brien had transformed herself into the blonde pop icon, Dusty Springfield.

In the 1960s, Dusty Springfield takes the entertainment world by storm with a score of hits, a top television show and a legion of fans. But the success she wanted is hollow and real happiness eludes her.

Wendy said Dusty's story was remarkable.

"She was an amazing woman."

- Wanganui Chronicle

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