“Son of a Preacher Man” is the latest jukebox musical to go on tour in the UK, which includes a string of dates at the Darlington Hippodrome. Will this Dusty Springfield-based production get “The Look of Love” from audiences?
Written by the internationally renowned playwright, Warner Brown, the musical begins in the Preacher Man, a swinging 1960s Soho joint, where the legendary owner (the Preacher Man himself) dispenses advice to cure the loneliest of hearts.
Fast-forward to the modern day and three hopeless in love strangers, Paul (Michael Howe), Alison (Debra Stephenson) and Kat (Alice Barlow), are inexplicably drawn to the site of the original venue after hearing the stories and the myths.
The Preacher Man may be long gone, but his son, Simon (Nigel Richards), with help from the Cappuccino Sisters (Michelle Long, Kate Hardisty and Cassiopeia Berkeley-Agyepong), finds it in himself to channel the spirit of the Preacher Man to help these three lovesick strangers find love.
Unsurprisingly, there’s no shortage of Dusty Springfield songs, as the cast perform countless hits such as “The Look Of Love”, “I Only Want To Be With You”, “Spooky” and the classic “Son of a Preacher Man”, each of which has been brilliantly choreographed by the show’s director and “Strictly Come Dancing” judge Craig Revel Horwood.
The cast, particularly Nigel Richards, Michael Howe, Debra Stephenson and Alice Barlow, deliver excellent performances in their respective roles, showing off their diverse array of acting, singing and dancing skills to a very high standard.
Despite the marvellous musical numbers and talented cast on show, they fail to distract from the heavily disjointed plot, which seemingly wanders off on tangents in order to shoehorn in Springfield’s hits.
Furthermore, the vast majority of the humour falls flat, overly-relying on outdated stereotypes, such as a Scottish plumber in a kilt, waitresses in skimpy dresses and jokes about how “women belong in the kitchen”, for cheap laughs. The sheer tackiness diverts the attention away from what is otherwise a very solid production.
With a more polished script and better flowing narrative, “Son of a Preacher Man” could have been truly great. Instead, what audiences are left with is an outstanding cast making the most of some flawed source material. Needless to say, this is a must-see for fans of Dusty Springfield.
“Son of a Preacher Man” is at Darlington Hippodrome from Tuesday, February 6th, 2018 until Saturday, February 10th, 2018. Tickets can be purchased from the box office on 01325 405405 or through the Darlington Hippodrome website.