Son of a Preacher Man – King’s Theatre, Glasgow

Writer: Warner Brown

Director & Choreographer: Craig Revel Horwood

Reviewer: Lauren Humphreys

If you listen closely you can hear the sound of the late, great Dusty Springfield turning in her grave at this travesty of a musical that weaves her greatest hits around a series of utterly banal love stories. Unlike Dusty, who sang “I just don’t know what to do with myself”, this reviewer knows exactly what to do – run to the exit.

A trio of lost souls: Paul (Michael Howe), searching for his first love; Alison (Michelle Gayle) uncomfortably (for the audience) in love with one of her teenage pupils (I kid you not) and Kat (Alice Barlow) who has recently lost her much-loved gran, are all looking for love. All three are drawn to a Soho record store and its legendary oracle of an owner – The Preacher Man. However, the store and its owner are alas, no more. In its place, a coffee shop run by the Preacher Man’s hapless son, Simon (Nigel Richards), complete with a trio of thoroughly annoying singing waitresses, the Cappuccino Sisters.

It is almost impossible to care about any of this hodgepodge of a show. Warner Brown’s plot is barely comprehensible, disjointed, and often utterly tasteless: there are ill-judged jokes about a deceased husband, a mature man pretending to be a young girl to dupe someone online, a scene at a grief counselling group to the tune of I Just Don’t Know What to do With Myself, and the thoroughly uncomfortable scenario where an older woman is in love with a young boy. There’s little humour and what humour there is raises few laughs. The characterisations are leaden and utterly one-dimensional and the choreography by Craig Revel Horwood is in turn sloppy and sleazy, and shambolically executed by the cast who have clearly not been hired for their terpsichorean efforts. The set and some of the costumes fair no better and are panto-esque at best. Horwood’s direction beggars belief, there is little of this production that has been properly thought through. Someone needs to look at the calendar – has no-one realised it’s 2018: women in tiny skirts unnecessarily bumping and grinding against tables and in men’s faces just doesn’t cut it any more, it is everyday sexism at its worst. To add insult to injury it’s played out to Some of Your Lovin’, a pleading anthem of unfulfilled love.

You get the feeling that the cast may be aware how bad this is, the script is trite, but they gamely give it their all. This however transmits into too high energy levels that are out of kilter with the over-riding storyline regarding grief. There are few who can ever scale the vocal heights of the legendary Dusty and here, few manage to even come close. Former Eastenders stalwart Michelle Gayle barely registers, Alice Barlow has a fine voice at full belt but her acting skills need refining and Michael Howe’s high energy levels are a tad over the top (though he has a nice duet also playing guitar on Spooky). Faring best are Nigel Richards, who with the lion’s share of the cheesy lines, still remains likeable throughout and Swing Gary Mitchinson who possessed the best voice of the evening. What is excellent is the band, who are tight, sharp and full-sounding throughout and only three members strong. While not a fan of strolling actor/musicians, the onstage (mostly) brass instruments provide excellent punctuation to the pit band.

Lifeless, tasteless and soulless. It ultimately leaves you “wishing and hoping” you were anywhere else.

Runs until 12 May 2018 | Image: Contributed

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Lifeless, tasteless and soulless

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The Reviews Hub - Scotland

The Scotland team is under the editorship of Lauren Humphreys. The Reviews Hub was set up in 2007. We aim to review all professional types of theatre, whether that be Commercial, Repertory or Fringe as well as Comedy, Music, Gigs etc.

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  1. Son of a Preacher Man.
    “What a Disaaapoooiiintment Daaarrrling !!!”
    Dreadful story line to showcase the music of the Icon WHO was Dusty Springfield.
    I nearly fell asleep in the first half and some people actually left at the interval.
    An avid theartre goer total dismay !!! Surreal or what ? Never been so disappointed. Ametuer productions have been more enjoyable.
    The finale was the best bit we actually got Son of A Preacher Man in full. Fair play there is some young talent.Give them something to help their careers

  2. Left at the interval. Utter garbage the whole show was extremely disappointing. God bless Dusty Springfield her music saved us from leaving earlier. Complete waste of money.
    The dancing was dreadful. Seen better in a high school end of term show.

  3. Very disappointed in this musical storyline was confusing , annoying and stupid left at interval as didn’t see there would be any great improvement. Total waste of time and money !

  4. Rubbish, the only good thing about it was the music played in the theatre before the show started. Fortunate to have seats at the aisle enabling a quick escape before the interval.

  5. Went to see this at the Orchard Theatre, Dartford.
    Dreadful never seen such utter rubbish. Left at interval, would have left sooner if we had end seats.

    Most of the cast were great, but the storyline was awful what a mish mash, nothing relating to Dusty.

  6. Went to see this yesterday! Woefully bad is how I would describe it. The 3 love stories were incredibly insensitive. The 60’s costumes were so poor and accompanied the dire 60’s style dancing by obvious non dancers. These were my thoughts in the first 5 mins so I was completely mystified as to why the era would be portrayed so badly. But then as the show progressed I realised that the dancers and singers were actually musicians and in my opinion should have remained musicians. The attempts at humour were inappropriate and so were some of the dance/song references. Having seen ‘Copocabana’ by Southport Footlights only 4 days previously, it made PreacherMan seem so amateurish in comparison. I can only conclude that some of the audience don’t get out much when they stood clapping and singing at the end!

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