Celebrating the music of the legendary Dusty Springfield, this new jukebox musical has gone out on tour around the UK.
The story follows 3 characters all brought together by their circumstances and love troubles, outside a coffee shop (that used to be a music shop called The Preacher Man). Back in the swinging 60’s they used to call the shop’s owner The Preacher Man and he had a legendary reputation as the go-to-guy for advice.
Kat (Diana Vickers), Alison (Debra Stephenson) and Paul (Michael Howe) arrive too late to meet the preacher man himself, but his son Simon (Ian Reddington) is still around. With a little bit of help from his father, Simon helps the group to resolve their issues and find love in the end.
The performers are excellent and highly respected individually, the band is live on stage (including almost all the company members) and it is directed by Craig Revel Horwood. The set is very well designed, the choreography is on the whole a very good standard and it is clear that this is a very professional production that has all the ingredients that should make for a good show.
But it just doesn’t work.
It is terribly let down by a script that just doesn’t work on stage. Even Dusty fans cannot enjoy her music, which is played and sung extremely well, because of a script that just isn’t good enough at all.
The action is asking too much from the audience from the outset. Character backstories and the general action as it unfolds on stage is either too difficult to believe or requires so much more explanation. The circumstances are bordering on ridiculous and reactions are too likely.
All your favourite songs are in: The Look Of Love, Spooky, I Only Want To Be With You and of course the title track Son Of A Preacher Man, which Vickers makes a really nice job of in the finale. The problem is many have been shoe horned in so awkwardly that even the better moments of the show don’t reach the level that they could.
Three cappuccino sisters, played as an annoying, over the top trio actually demonstrate great talent throughout the show with their tight three part harmonies and slick moves throughout. Like all of the cast, they make a very nice job of the script that they have.
Can the show progress and become better? I’d like to think it could. It certainly has everyone it needs to.
If you like Dusty Springfield or you enjoy a very light evenings entertainment then go along and enjoy the many good factors to the show. The cast and team have lifted a script that is in need of improvement to a below average 2.5 star rating from us.