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Son Of A Preacher Man - Palace Theatre, Manchester
Graham Clark, Features Writer
Firstly, this is not a musical about the life of Dusty Springfield but if you like her songs then you will discover them again in this entertaining show.

The Preacher Man here is named after the owner of the Soho Club that bears the same name. The Preacher Man himself gives out advice to cure lonely hearts, only that was years ago and all that remains are the memories and myths.

Three random strangers, generations apart but all in need of help with their love lives come together on the site of the original venue in Soho.

It is a slow start and it does take a while to get going. Ian Reddington plays Simon who is, wait for it, the son of the Preacher Man. You might remember him from Coronation Street when he played Vernon, the musician.

The record shop that the Preacher Man ran is now long gone and has been turned into a coffee shop, the Double Shot run by Simon. The idea is that the wisdom, advice and help that his dad gave out could be brought back by Simon.

The three characters looking for love again are from three different generations. Paul played by Michael Howe is one of the most convincing of the three, Alison played by Debra Stephenson seemed a bit wooden at times, whilst Diana Vickers as Kat had the best singing voice. Mind you with her Lancashire accent she sounded to come more from Blackburn than Rotherham, which is where she was meant to be from.

Dusty Springfield had such a powerful voice and really only Diana Vickers could match that standard.

Although the musical looks back to the past, there are references to the present such as coffee shops, the Internet and internet dating, along with a mention of "should have gone to SpecSavers"

The characters did not really seem to develop their relationships with their lovers - the scene where Alison, the middle aged teacher, who is a widow is teaching her long lover about Romeo and Juliet could have been expanded upon, the scenes at times seem rushed and the dialogue not believable.

Also by Graham Clark...
Beauty And The Beast, Theatre Royal, Nottingham
Roy Wood Rock N Roll Band, Royal Hall, Harrogate
Slade To Visit Hull And Manchester
Brand New Heavies, Manchester Academy
The Charlatans, O2 Academy, Leeds
All the big Dusty hits are there. Looking at the age range of the audience it would appear that they remembered the songs from the first time around from their youth.

The end of the storyline seemed rushed although you didn't really know at first how it was going to end.

The finale with all the cast on stage was uplifting, energetic and enjoyable with Vickers taking the lead vocal on the title track of the musical.

She is only going to be in the show till the end of the year and I hope that her replacement is as good, as she was excellent.

If you are a Dusty fan then for the songs alone it will be a great night out for you, but for the others it might take a little getting into.

Runs until Saturday 30 September
www.atgtickets.com/Manchester
Telephone 0844 871 3019

Yorkshire Tour Dates:

York Opera House - 3-7 October 2017
Hull New Theatre - 7-11 November 2017
Bradford Alhambra - 12-16 June 2018

Son Of A Preacher Man - Palace Theatre, Manchester, 29th September 2017, 10:43 AM