Son Of A Preacher Man… the song that had everyone clapping and roaring with applause as it made its debut at the Sunderland Empire last night. This heart-warming new musical follows three tales of love and the groovy little place where they all began, and, of course, how the son of a preacher man fits into it all.
I’ve never had the pleasure of reading the book and since it’s a brand new production I guessed it was about the son of a preacher man, and I was correct, but there’s so much more to it. What I didn’t know was the Preacher Man was also the coolest Soho hang out in the 1960s where kids danced the night away to the latest hits and dared to dream of love, while legendary owner, also known as The Preacher Man, dished out advice that cured the loneliest of souls.
I instantly felt a connection during the opening scene, where the three main characters – Kat, who is played by X Factor contestant, Diana Vickers, Alison, who is played by Debra Stephenson and Paul, who is played by Michael Howe – are all reminiscing about the record store that is the Preacher Man and the memories it holds. It reminded me of when my friends and I used to head to a vinyl shop called Hot Rats in Sunderland on a Saturday to buy band badges, CDs and other memorabilia. Such good and happy times.
Anyways, these random strangers, generations apart, venture to Soho to find help with their hopeless love lives, however, they come to find that the Preacher Man is long gone. Instead they’re greeted by Simon, the son of a preacher man, who is played by Ian Reddington. After hearing their love stories, Simon, and with the help from the wonderful Cappuccino Sisters, aim to channel the spirit of the Preacher Man and help these lovesick strangers find the look of love.
The whole production is inspired by the greatest hits from Dusty Springfield, and it’s through these legendary songs including ‘The Look Of Love,’ ‘I Only Want To Be With You,’ ‘Spooky’ and many more, that you see each love story unfold. It was also these songs that got the entire crowd swaying and clicking their fingers, and let’s not forget the few on a back row who were singing along.
Now not every love story has a happily ever after, but thanks to Simon, who is basically a combination of Cilla Black and Jeremy Kyle, ensures that each character has found “the one” or someone by the end.
A combination of comical moments, fantastic vocals and amazing live instrumentals. The dancing could have been better, but I understand it’s hard to sing that well while dancing too – still a superb effort.
Whether you’re a fan of Dusty and want a good sing along, or are a sucker for a good love story, then I’d recommend you visit the Son Of A Preacher Man, which is on until Saturday 23rd September at the Sunderland Empire. Tickets available here, or at the box office.
Sarah Jayne x
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