Star comedian and actor Rufus Hound is helping to tell the story of one of the great singers of the 1960s, Dusty Springfield.
Rufus plays one of Dusty’s managers, Vic Billings, in the show, full of soulful hits like I Only Want to Be With You, Son of a Preacher Man and You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me.
He said: “There have been attempts to turn the music of Dusty Springfield into a musical before, that have largely not been terribly successful.
“The difference with this is that it’s written by Jonathan Harvey, one of the best scriptwriters in the country, in consultation with her manager Vicki Wickham and Dusty’s personal assistant, Pat Rhodes.
Rufus said: “There’s plenty of stories of great men who are flawed and not always motivated necessarily by the right things. We get those stories all the time.
“With female stars, either they are the Virgin Mary or the Whore of Babylon. In this show you get a 360-degree portrait of someone in her own way professionally brilliant.”
Rufus said that the relationships Dusty had with the women closest to her are central to the story.
“It’s about Dusty’s experience as a gay woman at a time when there was far less generosity to people in same sex relationships than there is now.
“She wasn’t afraid to put a few noses out of joint and live her truth.
“She gave interviews saying she could be attracted to a woman as well as a man.
“That was a signpost for a generation that came afterwards.”
Rufus first worked on the show in script development workshops with a group of actors.
He said that Billings had faith in Dusty’s ability to become a solo star after she left family group The Springfields.
“It was thought that without her brother she wasn’t glamorous enough to sell any records and he never thought that was true. He took a punt on her and was rewarded for it.”
Rufus said that, like many gay men, Billings was attracted to work in an industry where his sexuality would not be a problem.
Rufus said he really fell in love with Dusty’s songs listening to the amazing voice of the show’s star, Katherine Kingsley.
He said: “I’m very, very happy now to listen to these songs, especially with Katherine as Dusty.
“I worked with her five years ago and have been a fan, pretty much from day one.
“She has the voice of an angel.
“Because she is such a great singer, it isn’t an impression, it is an interpretation of the character.
“There are little stylings she is just putting into the songs that give an overall impression of what Dusty sounded like.
“It’s really a singer’s understanding of a master craftsman.”
Rufus said he mainly does theatre these days, although repeats of some of his old comedy and panel shows regularly appear on TV channels such as Dave.
He is back soon in a new series of fantasy comedy Zapped, though, starring James Buckley of The Inbetweeners.
Dusty is at the Sheffield Lyceum from July 11 to 14. Box office: wwww.sheffieldtheatres.co.uk