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Camelot spotlights divas of soul and pop

The Beatles, Chad & Jeremy, Peter and Gordon, Herman's Hermits and The Rolling Stones are just a few pop and rock performers who stormed the United States during the so-called British Invasion of the '60s. Vocalists Dusty Springfield and Petula Clark also rode the wave of boy bands from the United Kingdom that became popular across the pond from '64 to '66.

Camelot Theatre's new musical spotlight, "Ladies of the British Invasion: Dusty Springfield and Petula Clark!" focuses on the lives and music of these iconic women.

The show previews at 8 p.m., Thursday, Nov. 11, opens Friday, Nov. 12, and performances run at 8 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays and 2 p.m. Sundays through Nov. 21.

Written by and starring Rogue Valley vocalist Gayle Wilson, "Ladies of the British Invasion" features 25 songs, including Clark's "Don't Sleep in the Subway," "Downtown" and "Kiss Me Goodbye," along with Springfield's "I Only Want to Be With You," "Son of a Preacher Man" and "Wishin' and Hopin'," among others.

Wilson will be joined by musicians Kathy Campbell (keyboards, flute, vocals), Donna Bishop (keyboards, vocals), Gary Creek (guitar, mandolin), Dave Miller (bass) and Steve Sutfin (drums) for her show. Song arrangements are by Dal Carver, and musical direction is by Kathy Campbell. The script's narration is by Camelot's resident sound, audio and video designer Brian O'Connor.

"Wishin' and Hopin' " was written by Hal David and Burt Bacharach and became a Top-10 hit for Springfield, a lady of soul, in '64. She launched her solo career with "I Only Want to Be With You" in '63. "You Don't Have to Say You Love Me" followed in '66, "Son of a Preacher Man in '68 and her landmark acclaimed album, "Dusty in Memphis," was released in '69.

While Springfield sang passionately about love during her career, Clark's music was upbeat and happy. As an English singer, actress and composer, her career spanned seven decades — beginning as an entertainer on BBC Radio during World War II. During the '60s, she became known in the U.S. for hits such as "Downtown," "I Know a Place," "Colour My World" and others.

"Downtown" was released in four different languages in late '64. It was a success in the U.K., France, the Netherlands, Germany and other countries. It went to No. 1 on the American charts in '65, and 3 million copies were sold in the U.S. It was the first of 15 consecutive Top-40 hits in the U.S. for Clark.

This is Wilson's seventh Camelot spotlight. As a musician in the Rogue Valley, she performs in various bands playing everything from big band-era swing music to jazz, blues, folk and rock. She also has about 30 years in local television to her credit. Her travelogue, "Explore Southern Oregon," has aired every weekend for 14 years on RVTV's Channel 9.

Tickets cost $14 for the preview, $18 for all other performances. Reserved seating is available for an additional $2 per ticket. Reservations are recommended and can be made at the theater's box office by calling 541-535-5250 or online at www.camelottheatre.org. Box office hours are 1 to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday.

Local performer Gayle Wilson has been in seven “Spotlight” performances at the Camelot Theatre in Talent. - Photo by Steve Sutfin