Another week, another musical arrives in Hull. Now that Hull New Theatre is back in business, these travelling productions are coming thick and fast. This week, Son of a Preacher Man is performing and I had the opportunity to get to the opening night to see this new musical.
Put together by Strictly Judge, Craig Revel Horwood; Son of a Preacher Man is the story of three individuals all needing help with their love lives. Kat, Alison and Paul are three broken hearted strangers all looking for the legend a particular 60’s Soho joint, where the kids danced the night away to the latest crazes and dared to dream of love. The legendary owner, The Preacher Man, dispensed advice to cure the loneliest of hearts.
All that remains now are the memories, the stories and the myths taught to them by their parents and grandparents. The Preacher Man is long gone, but his son, is still there and now managing what is now a coffee shop in it’s place.
As the three strangers come looking for guidance, Simon, the Son of the Preacher Man is expected to live up to the service his father once provided and as each individual story pans out, he draws deep into the spirit of The Preacher Man to help them and himself.
It’s an intriguing story interlaced with familiar hits from 60’s British singer, Dusty Springfield. I loved it so here are my reason’s why you should head down to Hull New Theatre this week to see the show.
The cast and whole ensemble have been really well pieced together, which made it a really entertaining production. Backed by The Cappucino Sisters, there were plenty of familiar faces on stage including former X-Factor finalist Diana Vickers, Hull’s very own Debra Stephenson who’s known for her roles in Corrie and The Impressions Show, Ian Reddington from Eastenders and Michael Howe who’s played characters in various films and TV series.
Diana Vickers plays Kat – rejected by her the online match she fantasises about, she feels the need to head over to Soho and find the legendary Preacher Man who her Gran used to know.
Many previous X-Factor contestants find careers in musical theatre, and when you see the performance of Diana Vickers, you’ll understand why it’s a great direction for them to turn to. Her voice is absolutely incredible and makes it look so effortless, it’s hard not to be impressed by the talent she has.
Debra Stephenson plays the role of Alison, the teacher who turns to private tutoring after tragically losing her husband. Falling in love with one of her pupils, Alison decides to seek out the Preacher Man for the solution she needs after being told the many stories by her mum growing up.
Her voice was surprisingly good and by the end of the show, she had easily become the audience’s favourite character and was rewarded with, what was by far, the loudest applause.
Michael Howe played the kind-hearted Paul who was around the Preacher Man as an 18 year old and fell in love with another man. He returns to the hang-out to seek him out again. Michael Howe’s performance was actually one of the best in the show, making you really feel for his character and offered an outstanding solo performance of ‘I Close My Eyes and Count to Ten’.
Ian Reddington as Simon, the Preacher Man’s son, was another enjoyable performance. He ends up being faced with the task of stepping into his dad’s shoes while being the manager of the replacement coffee shop.
The cast were the real strength of this show, performing all the classic Dusty hits which made you really want to get up and dance in the isles. The ensemble together, including the Cappucino Sisters, was pure brilliance and rather than a separate accompanying band off-stage, the band played their instruments on-stage as part of the cast.
As you have probably guessed from the title, the musical is basically a showcase of many of Dusty Springfield’s hits and seems the real reason why the producers put this show together, purely as a show to celebrate her songs.
My favourites in particular were the variations of ‘The Look of Love’ and the grand finale of ‘Son of a Preacher Man’ which was probably the best ending to a musical I’ve seen.
Like all great musicals, this was a real feel-good show that was funny, yet sweet and touching. It’ll have you laughing and crying in equal measure and if you’re bit in the shy side like me, you’ll have to resist singing your heart out to some of these incredible songs.
It’s playing at the newly refurbed, Hull New Theatre all this week until Saturday so grab your tickets and head down, you won’t regret it. You can book online at hulltheatres.co.uk, by phone on 01482 300 306, or at the City Hall and New Theatre box offices.