Son of A Preacher Man at the Liverpool Empire Review

3-7 July 2018

Reviewed by Kimberley Bickerdike

Calling all Dusty fans! If you’re looking for a fun, upbeat musical which is jam packed full of Dusty Springfield hits, this is the show for you! I took my Dad along with me to watch this show as he is a huge Dusty fan and he knew and loved every song and really enjoyed this show.

The story begins in the 1960s at a record shop in Soho called The Preacher Man. The owner of the shop who is known as ‘The Preacher Man’ offers his customers advice on all aspects of their life. There is an energetic opening song and dance routine and all the performers dance along in a typically 60s style and are dressed in 60s clothing. The story then skips to present day and this is where we meet the main characters.

The 3 main characters all have something in common, they need advice and decide to seek out ‘The Preacher Man’. Alison (played by Michelle Gayle) has recently lost her husband and has embarked on a relationship with a student who she teaches, Kat (played by Alice Barlow) has too suffered a bereavement following the loss of her Gran and Paul (played by Michael Howe) is looking to reconnect with an old flame he met is the record shop back in its heyday. They all arrive at record shop to discover it has been turned into a coffee shop and is now owned by the Preacher Man’s son Simon (played by Nigel Richards). Simon doesn’t have the same skills as his dad and isn’t able to offer the advice they would like. After some persuasion he decides to try and help them, and this is where the main body of the story begins.

The journey takes them to a variety of venues in present day and yesteryear and the set supports the different decades and genres perfectly. The changes between the numerous scenes and sets are swift and slick and the costumes are visually impressive. The show is choreographed by Craig Revel Horwood and the different styles of dancing also supports the story and time zones. The scenes and dancing based in the 60s were my favourite and I felt the era was captured brilliantly. The music throughout the show is definitely the highlight and a string of Dusty classics including ‘I Only Want to Be With You’ ‘Nowhere to Run’ and ‘I Just Don’t Know What to Do With Myself’ are featured throughout.

There are a number of supporting characters who not only act and sing but also play a musical instrument. I have never seen this been done before on the stage and was impressed with the number of talented performers in this show. The highlight performance for me was Jon Bonner who played Pauls former flame. His voice was my favourite of the show and I couldn’t help but focus on him anytime he was on the stage. He also played the trumpet and formed part of the ensemble cast. He is a truly talented performer.

Other stand out performances were Michael Howes acting and singing, he is a natural on the stage and performs his songs comfortably and with ease. Michelle Gayle has a lovely and passionate singing voice and Alice Barlow played her role of a funny yet tough 19-year-old girl from Rotherham convincingly.

My favourite part of the show was the finale, this was a high energy performance by all of the cast and featured the songs ‘You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me’ and the title track ‘Son of a Preacher Man’ there was a lengthy round of applause and this was definitely deserved.

I would recommend this musical for anyone who enjoys 60s music, and in particular Dusty Springfield.

Rating: 5/5

Tickets cost from £15 to £39.50 (plus £2.85 transaction fee).

Son of a Preacher Man is at the Liverpool Empire from 3-7 July 2018, for more information or to book tickets visit www.atgtickets.com/liverpool or call the box office on 0844 8713017.

Liverpool Empire Theatre, Lime Street, Liverpool, Merseyside, L1 1JE | 0844 8713017

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