Reviewed by Cate Norris
This new musical, written by Warner Brown and directed by Craig Revel Horwood, sees three individuals drawn to the same old, 60’s, record shop, looking for advice from the preacher man that used to run it, following periods of turmoil in their lives. Featuring the music of Dusty Springfield, the vocal talents of Diana Vickers, and impressive credit history of Debra Stephenson, Michael Howe and Ian Reddington, on paper, this promises to be an exciting new venture.
The unfortunate and harsh reality however, was that it was a little confusing, somewhat awkward and a whole lot cringy. The biggest cringe fest, possibly being ‘contagious hugging’ at the end of the show, although it equally could have been Kat (Diana Vickers) and Mike the Knight’s (Liam Vincent-Kilbride) terrible fight scene, however, the constant slow dancing was a strong contender too. There were a number of awkward transitions from scene to song, with Vickers most guilty of visibly finishing her line and waiting around for the music to start, which not only felt like songs were being slotted in for the sake of it, but made me feel like I was imposing on a private rehearsal. I was generally confused as to why musicians were walking onto stage and bursting out laughing before playing (perhaps they’d just shared a joke backstage or someone in the front row had ice-cream on their nose), in addition I was waiting for a connection to be revealed between our characters which went beyond their individual links to the record shop, so felt less than satisfied when there was none and with many questions in my head as I aimed to tie up the loose ends.
The advantages of this production are that it incorporates the music of Dusty Springfield which is played marvellously and fans of her music will enjoy. The cast cannot be faulted on their vocal abilities as all are in fine voice with Vickers and Howe being sensational. Reddington gave a great performance as the son of a preacher man and Stephenson was a good ‘all-rounder’. There were a few one liners, mostly delivered by Vickers that warranted a giggle, yet despite this the production was a bit of a disappointment and I don’t expect it will be one that will be with us for very long.
Tickets cost from £15 to £41.50 (plus £2.85 transaction fee).
Son of a Preacher Man is at the New Alexandra Theatre in Birmingham from 12-16 September 2017, for more information or to book tickets visit www.atgtickets.com/birmingham or call the box office on 0844 871 3011.
New Alexandra Theatre, Suffolk Queensway, Birmingham, West Midlands, B5 4DS