After 23 years celebrating the life of Dusty Springfield, veteran performer Wendy Stapleton brings her long-running tribute to Geelong next Saturday.
The 64-year-old has performed as the British pop legend at major theatres across Australia and the world since 1995.
“I’ve modified it so I can do it at clubs,” Stapleton told the Indy.
“You can’t take an orchestra around.”
Terence O’Connell had the brainchild of casting Stapleton as Springfield after directing her in Australian musicals Bad Boy Johnny and the Prophets of Doom.
“He had wanted to do a Dusty show for ages,” she said.
The plan to do a tribute show was “a bit odd” given Springfield was still alive at the time, Stapleton said.
“But (O’Connell) loved her so much he said ‘why wait until someone dies to tell them you love them’.”
O’Connell recognised the vocal and physical resemblance between the veteran Australian performer and the pop legend.
“If you see both of us with all of the make-up and wigs and stuff, you see a pretty close resemblance,” Stapleton said.
“I guess that’s why I was offered the job in the first place.”
Stapleton grew up on the sounds of Dusty before “dancing on telly as a kid” on the Tarax Show.
“I remember that as a kid. My mother bought me the sheet music so I could sing it,” she said.
“Back in the day, you used to have to go and get someone to play it on the piano for you. Now we all just go on computer and get the backing track.”
Stapleton performed the show for a stint in England during 1997 and 1998 just before Dusty died.
“She was so unwell by then that she couldn’t get out of bed,” she said.
“She didn’t see the show, but her friends did. They were happy with the way the story was portrayed.”
Stapleton will perform Springfield’s hits at Geelong RSL on 18 August with her crew of singers and musicians, albeit on a smaller stage than decades ago.
“I’ve still got the collection of wigs I can tell you that,” she said.
Stapleton has performed fro 5 years, including stints on Neighbours and singing with her band Wendy and the Rocketts in the 1980s.
“The first gig for the Rocketts was always the pub right in the centre of Geelong,” she said.
“If we had a good night at the Eureka it would be a good tour – it was a wild little place that pub!”
Stapleton again looked forward to returning to Geelong.
“A lot of our friends live down there,” she said.
“I’d like to see all the old faces.”