WHILE my own musical education began in the late 70's, there's no getting away from the fact there's a certain mystique about the pop stars of the Sixties.
Then there's the music, of course, which, somehow, has remained timeless. Like the plays of Shakespeare, many of the songs that came out of this phenomenal decade will never stop being performed.
So it is with the string of classics produced by one Dusty Springfield. Privately crippled by stage fright, she brought down many a house around the world when she stepped on to it.
Here was an artist who paid a hefty price for fame. Battling at first against pre performance nerves and a mother who made Mrs Danvers appear positively cuddly by comparison. Then there was the struggle with her sexuality, a sexuality a still intolerant society forced her to hide, and her addiction to drugs and booze.
Jonathan Harvey, one of the best writers around for me, paints a frank portrait of a star forced to battle more than her fair share of demons. But Harvey tackles his subject with all his characteristic warmth, wit and intelligence. He certainly makes you care about this tortured soul.
Then there's Katherine Kingsley who is simply sensational as our Dusty. While her singing voice doesn't have the sultry soulfulness of the original artist, what Ms Kingsley does have is a vocal range and purity that simply beggars belief. Voices like this simply must be experienced and similarly, Joanna Francis, who plays Dusty's love interest Lois, also has a voice to die for.
With some vibrant and colourful dance routines and a cast on a mission to entertain all, this has to be one of the best musicals to grace Greater Manchester in years. So, book quickly. Once word gets out just how good Dusty is the box office phone line is sure to be white hot.
* Until July 28. The box office is on 0843 208 6000. Star rating - ****