Son of a Preacher Man

Son of a Preacher Man: Bournemouth Pavilion - Tuesday 1st May

What were they thinking? This is a lamentable piece of musical theatre. An ill-conceived idea that frankly squanders the brilliant musical legacy of Dusty Springfield.

Re-workings of some of her greatest songs from the 60s and beyond are used to bolster the story at the centre of this abysmal production. It isn’t the performers who are at fault. They do their best under the circumstances but sloppy direction and tired, repetitive choreography undo any chance of rescuing this show from it’s ludicrous storyline. This is bizarre in itself as the director is none other than Strictly Come Dancing judge Craig Revell Horwood who really should know better.

The audience is confronted with a tale from beyond ridiculous where three lovesick people find themselves making a pilgrimage to London’s Soho where in the 60s a record shop owner known as the Preacher Man dispensed wise counsel along with the latest hit 45s. Maybe he can help mend their broken hearts. 

Sadly they find their guru has long departed to the great record store in the sky and where his shop once stood there is now a coffee bar. But guess what? It’s run by (wait for it) the son of the Preacher Man. Cue for a song anyone? 

With the Preacher Man’s son in tow, the strange trio - Alice Barlow (Kat), Michelle Gayle (Alison) and Michael Howe (Paul)  - continue their quest to find their perfect partners.They slog their way through the Dusty songbook along the way.

This juke-box musical is positively cringe-making, particularly because these are clearly talented performers desperately trying to deal with a bonkers storyline and feeble script. The musical arrangements are actually quite good but seem oddly misplaced.

I sat open-mouthed as the lonely characters on stage danced forlornly serenading a plastic chair apiece with an anguished I Just Don’t Know What To Do With Myself. 

There were plenty of hits: The look of Love, I Only Want to Be with You, The Middle of Nowhere, You Don’t Have To Say You Love Me. But it wasn’t Dusty and it did little credit to her memory.

This should have been a real-crowd pleaser but it wasn’t until the admittedly rousing finale and a rip-roaring version of the  title song that the audience responded with anything more than polite applause. 

Son of a Preacher Man is at Bournemouth Pavilion until Saturday 5th May.

Jeremy Miles (Please by-line)

© Jeremy Miles 2022