DUSTY is more than a musical celebration of one of Britain’s greatest female singing icons.

It is a warts and all biography tracing the highs and lows of the remarkable career of a pioneer in the field of popular music over 30-odd years from the 1960s.

The performance of Katherine Kingsley in the title role is simply stunning, musically and dramatically. There were odd moments when the volume of her speaking voice didn’t quite match the power of her singing voice. But her overall interpretation of a highly complex character was riveting and moving.

She showed us a controlling, demanding perfectionist who at the same time was extraordinarily vulnerable and needy. Roberta Taylor plays her mother Kay with whom she had a difficult relationship, partly because Kay never really forgave her for abandoning her brother Tom and the Springfields, but she was also quicker to criticise than praise her daughter’s achievements. And Dusty longed for unconditional maternal approval.

Rufus Hound plays her long-time manager Vic Billings and Esther Coles and Ella Kenion her lifelong backstage support of Pat and Ruby. The trio are warm-hearted and long-suffering and provide comic relief.

The other outstanding performer is Joanna Francis as Lois, Dusty’s American partner over many dark and troubled years. She is a consummate actor and her singing sends a tingle down the spine.

Writer Jonathan Harvey pulls no punches in revealing the woman behind the voice. This is no simpering story for the fans. It has compassion, yes, but also searing honesty.

Her songs are cleverly woven into the story in a way which puts them in a completely different context and perspective. The action is slick, sometimes breathtakingly so, and uses magical technology, through an excellent ensemble cast.

You won’t see a better musical than this for a very long time.