By Lauren Ferrone
When most 20-something-year-olds celebrate with a drink as they count down the hours to a new year, performer Baylie Carson will ring in 2017 by reliving the swinging 60s.
The 25-year-old Adelaide expat, who has returned to the city for her first professional performance, will star as Mary O’Brien – the ‘young Dusty’ – in Dusty the Musical at the Festival Theatre on New Years Eve.
Dusty the Musical is the extraordinary story of the life and music of Dusty Springfield, one of pop music’s greatest female stars.
Baylie, who left Adelaide at the age of 19 to study dance and music theatre in Melbourne and Perth, will channel Dusty in the musical creation by Australian writers John-Michael Howson, David Mitchell and Melvyn Morrow.
“It’s the most amazing feeling to do my first professional show in my hometown. Dad has lived in Malvern his whole life, and mum is based in Hazelwood Park,” she says.
But living in regional South Australia are where most of Baylie’s childhood memories remain.
“I lived at a restaurant in the Langhorne Creek wine region, in a country town where I had to collect the eggs from the chook shed each night while being timed running between the grape vines,” she laughs.
Baylie lived in Langhorne Creek before her parents separated.
“I was living in the country one weekend, and the city the next – I had the best of both parts of the State,” she says.
Moving back to Adelaide, Baylie attended Marryatville Primary School and High School (a specialist music school) where she studied voice, flute and saxophone.
But performing arts wasn’t the only love in Baylie’s childhood. She represented South Australia in trampoline while growing up, and most of her childhood life was dedicated to the sport.
While Baylie is no longer based in Adelaide, she says it will “always be my home”.
“The talent in Adelaide is ridiculous, and I’m so excited to be back and spending time with family before Christmas,” she says.
Baylie describes her “third family” as the South Australian music theatre group Pelican Productions where she channeled her creative arts skills and has since become an assistant tutor.
The directors of Pelican Productions flew to Melbourne earlier this month to support Baylie in her opening weekend in Dusty.
“I love the appreciation of performing, and being in a room where there’s a cloud of people just experiencing the same thing… it’s pure happiness and I couldn’t ask for anything better,” she says.
Dusty Springfield took the world by storm with hits including ‘I Only Want To Be With You’, ‘Wishin’ and Hopin’’, ‘You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me’, ‘I Just Don’t Know What to Do With Myself’ and ‘Son of a Preacher Man’.
Amy Lehpamer, who recently played ‘Maria’ in The Sound of Music, joins Baylie as the ‘older’ Dusty; Todd McKenney (The Boy From Oz) as Rodney; Dusty’s loyal hairdresser and best friend, Virginia Gay (Winners & Losers) as Peg; and Adelaide’s own Paul Blackwell as Dusty’s father.