Reviewed by Jan Mellor
I didn’t know a lot of Dusty Springfield hits – I must admit – only the ones my mum used to sing around the house – “I just don’t know what to do with myself” and “You don’t have to say you love me”, so I came to the show not really knowing what to expect. The show started unexpectedly with six people on stage playing instruments (violins clarinets, flutes…) and then brilliantly moved to a scene of a corner shop set in 60’s Soho, London. The scene starts with the cast explaining about their link to the ‘Preacher Man’ shop and how they yearned to go back to this icon – the man who helped everyone whilst selling his vinyl records and the days of the 60’s beat music.
So that is what they do, Paul – a man (fighting his homosexuality), Alison – a woman (recently widowed) and Kat – a teenager (who’s recently been ‘dumped’) return back to the corner shop to find their ‘salvation’. The addition of the orchestra following the cast throughout the show was a sheer delight. The shop brilliantly transformed to a coffee shop and songs by the talented Cappuccino singers “I only want to be with you” and “The look of love” filled the theatre with Dusty’s spirit. Risky topics of homosexuality, infatuation with a young man and on-line dating were covered tastefully and the story developed with Simon (the Preacher Man’s son) out to prove that the three love interests were rogues. By act two we had grown fond of the characters and wanted them to find true love. Simon found out that the three love interests were decent after all and so tried to patch things up by getting the couples together. This occurs in the wonderful set of the coffee shop with the charismatic ‘Cappuccino Sisters’ singing more hits “Stay awhile” and “Some of your lovin”. The story develops with Kat finding true love, Alison linking up with Simon and Paul reunited with his old flame from the 60’s – all set to hits of “Anyone who had a heart”, “How can I be sure? “A house is not a home” and finishing on – of course – “Son of a Preacher Man”
The show in general was somewhat contrived and in places quite corny however, there were some parts of pure delight – the duet in Act 2 of Paul and a girl- Sandra, played by the talented Ellie-Jane Goddard, playing an acoustic version of “Spooky” with saxophone and “A house is not a home” with the cast singing to chairs (representing lost loved ones).
There were parts of the performance that were weak and some of the acting a bit wooden, but the songs, orchestra and dancing made up for that. If you enjoy a night of nostalgia and Dusty’s songs you will enjoy it. The Cappuccino Sisters stole the show for me – especially Cassiopeia Berkely-Agyepong who was making her professional debut on this show.
Good for Dusty fans.
Tickets cost from £15 to £40 (plus £4 transaction fee).
Son of a Preacher Man is at the Palace Theatre in Manchester from 26-30 September 2017, for more information or to book tickets visit www.atgtickets.com/palacetheatre or call the box office on 0844 871 3019.
Palace Theatre, 97 Oxford Street, Manchester, M1 6FT | 0844 871 3019