Touring – reviewed at the Storyhouse Theatre, Chester
Set in modern-day Soho, Son of a Preacher Man focuses on the lives of three people dealing with loss and heartbreak who turn to the past to find answers. All three of them end up at a record shop named the Preacher Man, which got its name from the man who ran it. In the 60s, all your troubles would be solved through music and advice from the shop’s owner, making it one of the most popular places of its time.
The story focuses on Kat, who recently lost her grandmother, Alison, who realises she’s in love with someone she can’t have and Paul, who still pines over a man he first fell in love with 40 years ago. The three of them venture to where the shop used to be in a search for advice and closure, only to find it no longer exists. Distraught, they meet the son of the shop’s owner Simon, who is the son of a preacher man. Simon takes it upon himself to help them, and with a little help from his deceased father, does just that.
The storyline is rather cheesy, which is to be expected from a jukebox musical and features plenty of Dusty Springfield’s hits including ‘The Look of Love’, ‘I Only Want To Be With You’ and of course, ‘Son Of A Preacher Man’. There are also plenty of other 1960s hits thrown in for good measure, such as Cilla Black’s ‘You’re My World’.
Kat, played by Alice Barlow, is a young girl suffering the loss of her grandmother, who turns to her grandmother’s favourite place, which just so happens to be the Preacher Man, for comfort. Alice is known for playing Rae Wilson on Hollyoaks, and being a previous contestant on The Voice. She delivers solid vocals and gives a good performance as Kat, impressing many of the audience with the sheer quality of her voice.
Alison, played by Michelle Gayle, is a teacher turned tutor who recently lost her Husband, Jim. Alison turns to the Preacher Man for advice on her new love, and learns a lot from it. Michelle Gayle is known for playing Hattie Tavernier in Eastenders, signing a record contract and releasing two albums with BMG and starring on Grange Hill as a child. Michelle gave a good, believable performance, with impressive vocals to match.
Simon is played by Nigel Richards who has had an extensive and impressive career in musical theatre, including Enjrolas and Grantaire in Les Miserables, and the Phantom in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Phantom of the Opera. Nigel gave a convincing performance as the shy but loveable Simon and I was suitably impressed.
Paul, a man who is still lusting after his first love, is played by Nigel Howe. Nigel has had an affluent career in theatre, TV and Film, with over 40 acting credits to his name on IMDB and almost as many theatre credits. Nigel gave a decent performance as Paul, making the audience really feel for him in the process.
With Craig Revel Horwood choreographing the show, I expected more in terms of choreography, which left me a little disappointed. However, the lack of choreography was made up for by most of the cast members occasionally playing instruments on stage.