Ilford’s tribute to Barry Manilow and Dusty Springfield

PUBLISHED: 10:00 09 April 2016

Jack Productions are putting on

Jack Productions are putting on "The Magic of Manilow" about Barry Manilow. Picture: PA

PA Archive/Press Association Images

Two of pop music’s best-loved talents will be celebrated on the stage over the next week, with renditions of their famous songs sure to thrill audiences.

Jack Productions are putting on Jack Productions are putting on "The Divine Dusty" about Dusty Springfield. Picture: PA

Jack Productions will be performing the hits – and lesser known numbers – of Barry Manilow in The Magic of Manilow and Dusty Springfield in The Divine Dusty.

Director Lee Thompson and his team will also tell Ilford’s Kenneth More Theatre the story behind the stars who produced iconic tunes such as Mandy and Son of a Preacher Man.

Last year, Jack Productions put on tributes to Barbra Streisand and Neil Diamond and Lee told the Recorder the team had been looking to feature “similar people again”.

“We wanted to do the songs we enjoy singing and we also wanted to pick the artists we thought would appeal to the KMT audience,” said Lee.

Princess Diana meeting Barry Manilow in 1983. Picture: PAPrincess Diana meeting Barry Manilow in 1983. Picture: PA

“Dusty Springfield is just such an iconic character, almost every song she sung went down as a hit. For the same reason, we came up with Barry Manilow.”

Weaved in-between the musical numbers will be the stories of the two stars.

Dusty Springfield, born Mary O’Brien, hailed from north London and began singing pop songs in groups in the early 1960s.

She was influenced by American soul music and brought many singers from the famous Motown label to the UK for the first time.

The performer is now best known for her 1968 album Dusty in Memphis, which features Son of a Preacher Man.

She travelled to America to record a soul album in the style of her hero Aretha Franklin and it is now considered one of the greatest albums of all time.

Lee said: “This was a big shift in her music.

“She started out singing pop songs with string quartets and she also worked with Burt Bacharach a lot.

“For Dusty, her big moment was when TV first came out. Music shows started appearing on TV and this really set her career off.”

The 47-year-old continued: “As for Barry Manilow, he [has been] a star pretty much his entire life. I think he did his first record when he was 12 years old.”

The Brooklyn-born singer had five consecutive albums in the bestseller charts by 1978 and notched up three number ones as well.

Lee said the Jack Productions team won’t just be singing the star’s big hits like Can’t Smile Without You and Copacabana, but will introduce the audience to some of his less well known ballads.

“It has been so interesting delving into Manilow and Dusty’s back catalogues and realising just what great songs they are both responsible for.”

Lee, who has been performing with his team for several years, added: “The audience are in for a real treat.”

The Magic of Manilow is on at 3pm and 7.30pm tomorrow.

The Divine Dusty is playing at the same times on Thursday.

Tickets for each are £10, or £16 for both, and can be purchased at or by calling 0208 553 4466.

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