Following hot on the heels of other jukebox musicals is Son of a Preacher Man which features the music of Dusty Springfield. Whereas shows like 'Mamma Mia' and 'We Will Rock You' leave you dancing in the aisles and wanting more this show leaves you feeling a little flat, and not just because the singing was flat in places.
The story line for the show can only really be described as bizarre, 3 people that bump into each other outside a shop that used to be called The Preacher Man but is now a coffee shop run by, you guessed it, the Son of the Preacher Man. All 3 have a problem they need solving, although they're all problems with love, and the show sees the son try and help. The script is funny in places but most of the time it's as predictable as a Christmas cracker joke or just too far fetched to be believable.
Craig Revel Horwood is the director and choreographer of the show, which does carry some credibility. I've seen a number of his productions and have always been very impressed however this show felt a bit stale. Craig used his tried and tested method of having actor musicians and this was pleasing at first but as the show progressed it was obvious some characters, like the Cappuccino Sisters, had only been created to enable a few extra songs to be unceremoniously shoe horned into the show. It also pains me to say it, being a brass player myself, but the trumpet was far too loud for the majority of the show with it often overpowering everything else on stage meaning the harmonies of the music were completely lost.
I was hoping that the music might be the saving grace of this show but unfortunately this was not the case. Some of the arrangements did not work, The Look of Love was barely audible as it was sung underneath lots of dialogue and several of the other songs had had tempo and rhythm changes which left them lacking the original songs wonder.
The cast did rescue this show. They were all highly talented and tried their best to give a poor script and lack lustre arrangements the best they could. On the performance I saw the only main character not to be played by an understudy was Kat played by Diana Vickers. The understudies were excellent and if it wasn't for the notice in the theatre foyer I would never have known they weren't the regular actors.
If you like the music of Dusty Springfield then you might enjoy this show but otherwise, and it pains me to say it, I would save your money and wait for the next show to role into town instead.
Reviewed by Daniel Keen at the Regent Theatre, Stoke-on-Trent.
This show is currently touring the UK until 7th July 2018. For more information and tickets visit the shows website.