REVIEW: Son Of A Preacher Man, Grand Theatre, Blackpool

If ever a show needed the classic jukebox musical trick of a mega-mix finale to send its audience out happy, this is it.

Son Of A Preacher Man plays the Grand Theatre this week
Son Of A Preacher Man plays the Grand Theatre this week

A well-choreographed and excellently-sung collection of Dusty Springfields hits left me singing my way home, but that didn’t distract from a disappointing production, directed by Craig Revel-Horwood.

Even by jukebox standards, the plot is thin; three strangers in need of love life help meet on their search for the ‘Preacher Man’, who ran a legendary record shop in the 60s, known for doling out advice to customers.

Unfortunately they meet - you guessed it - his son, who lacks the same skills, and instead is something of a recluse running a coffee shop, where singing waitesses the Cappucino Sisters provide some dazzling harmonies, but add little else to the tale.

Interpretations of some of the 60s’ best songs are cringey and on occasion boarde on tasteless. Who on earth decides to make a comic routine out of Anyone Who Had A Heart? That said, when the songs are allowed to shine, minus chairs and misplaced dance, the cast grasps it with real heart.

The actor-musician concept is a trend that’s not going away, and I’ve seen it used to beautiful effect elsewhere - and by the same director too.

But in this production it is lame, lazy and appears done to keep things cheap. Musicians peeping round the set and lounging on street corners are distracting, and they never really fit into the action.

Amy Barlow and Lewis Kidd bring some real warmth and chemistry to the stage, and some of their more experienced colleagues could take a lesson or two from their believable portrayals.

I was ‘wishing and hoping’ for a good show, but it was not to be.

* Son Of A Preacher Man, Grand Theatre, Blackpool, until Saturday.