BEING a fan of musicals I was really looking forward to Son of a Preacher Man at the Cliffs Pavilion, Southend. The talented cast includes familiar faces such as former Coronation Street star Debra Stephenson and TV’s Michael Howe, all directed by Strictly’s Mr Nasty, judge, Craig Revel Horwood.
Aligned with the soundtrack of iconic songs by the late pop star Dusty Springfield, I settled into my seat for a night of retro fun and glamour.
The audience was told of a legendary London record shop in the swinging 60s, run by a man whose relationship advice was nearly as sought-after as his musical expertise: The Preacher Man. Since his demise it had been turned into a soulless coffee shop.
Our trio of core characters, troubled by some form of relationship or family drama, are keen to seek romantic direction from this mystery love guru.
Paul (Michael Howe) was a regular visitor to the shop as a teenager and met the man of his dreams; while Alison (Debra Stephenson) and Kat (Alice Barker) learned of its status through memories shared via generations of family.
These strangers inexplicably unite in their shared mission for mystical guidance as the rather tenuous plot unfolded.
The Preacher Man is dead, but his son Simon (Nigel Richards) eventually agrees to follow in his father’s footsteps and try to resolve their problems.
Scriptwriter, Warner Brown, claims that the story came first and Dusty’s songs just fitted seamlessly but, there were times when the storyline was just too questionable only to be interrupted by another audience-pleasing song.
Impressive singing and musicianship were however the saviour of the night. Alice Barker as Kat confidently belted out the ballads along with strong performances from the coffee shop’s Cappuccino Sisters.
Kat ultimately inherits a fortune and concludes that returning the old shop to its former glory is the key to her happiness.
The whole company took to the stage for the finale, an upbeat version of ‘Son of a Preacher Man’.
There was nobody quite like Dusty and this show was a celebration of her music and how love conquers all! A must-see for music-fans.
Son of a Preacher Man is at the Cliffs Pavilion, Southend until Saturday 20 January.