Cast Just Don't Know What To Do With Themselves

Son of a Preacher Man

Theatre Severn

Tuesday 13th to Saturday 17th March (with Matinees)

If you are going to watch a show that contains nothing but Dusty Springfield songs you may be tempted to think that maybe somewhere along the line the show may include something about Dusty. Perhaps  about her early life  or maybe her time with the Springfields or her amazing solo career and untimely death in 1999 aged only 59. But no not a bit of it.

Son of a preacher man is simply a framework to hang the songs on. It is a story influenced by Dusty and other sixties memories but has no connection to the life of good old Dust. Not a bit of it.

However, just what it does have to do with anything is a mystery as there is a narrative but it loses its way. It would serve no real purpose to go through the story at this juncture on account that one has returned home rather bemused and dumbstruck as to what one has just witnessed. Befuddled, flummoxed and confusticated are words one could use when it comes to how the show can make one feel: Obviously not everybody, just some maybe?

The singing and the musicianship was absolutely top rate. The backing girls aka The Cappuccino Sisters, turned up in most scenes and could sing and play brilliantly. One imagines all of them are conservatoire standard and with the clever device of bringing on the band and weaving them into the story and having them on the stage one felt a sense of delight to hear such talented harmonies, surpassing quite a few singers that have wandered onto  Theatre Severn’s hallowed boards.

Michelle Gayle (Grange Hill & Eastenders) and Alice Barlow (Coronation Street & Benidorm) both sang beautifully but their characters are badly drawn by the writer of the script. Sadly one is never sure how on earth they got together initially, and who on earth they are and should you really care? If your answer is non-plussed to any or all of those questions then this one may be an uphill struggle for you.

The set was impressive. Across the proscenium arch  was a map of London streets, then behind that there was a sky cloth covered in brick work the idea, was to create a kind of urban feel. Well it did, its job was done. Behind the brick wall when that was raised, was a clever bit of kit in the shape of a street corner with a building planted there.  The building’s front was hinged and it opened up initially to be a Record Shop/ Coffee House from the Nineteen Sixties and then it became a coffee house for today and that was a clever bit of design.

That was the only reference to Dusty and that was in the earlier café when the owner, The Preacher Man, who seemed to have been a bit of love guru, mentioned her name in passing. The story continues on as Simon the Son of the Preacher Man had taken over the business of his Father  and these three disassociated characters turned up with nothing in common and cracked on to force Simon to the Preach…. on it goes.

This is a big show and one may expect a little better. However it’s a mixed bag, if you like Dusty I don’t believe they missed any of her back catalogue out and the music as already alluded to is wonderful. Don’t expect Pinter or Shakespeare in the script; in the writers defence he was working from the text of a book by Warner Brown, so maybe he had very little wriggle room.

The movement and direction all came from “Strictly Come Dancing’s,” Craig Revel Horwood. However this show employed almost every dance cliché and again one expected better. The moves were dated and passed their sell by and the stage was occasionally chaotic maybe the space was smaller than they had rehearsed for, but the result was a general cluttering and irrelevant action happening during some of the dancing.

Overall a mixed bag,  flashes of real brilliance  punctuated by moments of silly storylines. However: it became apparent by the cheering and whistles at the curtain call that there was a lot of Dusty’s fans in tonight. Check it out: It’s on all week, see if I am right or if in your eyes I am wrong. Only you will know that.

This is a Three Star Review

Owen J.Lewis

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Owen Lewis Owen Lewis

Owen Lewis was born fifty something years ago in the land of the black puddings. For the geographically challenged that is in Lancashire. Moving to Shropshire From 1970 Owen was brought up in Church Stretton. His first real job was in radio. After starting on BBC Radio Shropshire he became known on Marcher Sound, broadcasting throughout the North West for several years. After a university degree course in Theatre, Owen became an actor and went on to play "Pirate Bill" in The Alton Towers Hotel. He also made several television appearances. Returning to university he took his PGCE enabling him to teach. That saw him on the Essex coast as a drama teacher and latterly as a Creative Educational Liaison Officer making films and creating new teaching methods to employ on children in need of more help in their fundamental learning skills. Published playwright Owen ultimately wants a house boat in Amsterdam to focus on his work as Playwright and Poet. Follow hos blogspot at https://owenscribblerlewis.blogspot.com

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