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‘Son of a Preacher Man’, reviewed

The X-Factor's Diane Vickers stars in this touring musical at The Wycombe Swan, directed and choreographed by Craig Revel Horwood. But does it score a ten, darling?

The quickest turnaround for a review evahhhhhh. Back from the opening night at The Wycombe Swan to see Son of a Preacher Man, the touring musical that premiered this summer with Diane ‘X-Factor’ Vickers as the star, and  support from Debra Stephenson (Coronation St and Bad Girls) and Ian Reddington (Shameless, EastEnders, Coronation St).

Featuring the songs of Dusty S, as well as a smattering by Cilla and other Sixties stars, it’s a musical that, rather like Mamma Mia, takes the lyrics songs and shamelessly shoehorns a story around them. So The Preacher Man here is actually a swinging Soho joint where the charismatic owner would advice to lonely hearts. When three strangers – a gay man who as a teen in the Sixties, a widow in love with a school boy (no kidding) and a lonely teen who’s been rejected on a dating app –  are all drawn to the venue, it’s time to start the hit parade.

All photos: Darren Bell

Diane Vickers has been doing the musicals thing since she left the X-Factor stage back in 2008 (can you believe it was that long ago?!) and there’s no doubting she has the tonsils for the task, but actually I preferred Debra Stephenson’s smoother, purer voice, and her greater experience at acting showed too. Ian Reddington, of whom I’m a big fan, was probably the most replete and believable actor on stage, as the – here it comes – Son of the Preacher Man.

 

Debra Stevenson and Diane Vickers

For me, the major strengths of the production were the supporting actor/musicians who seemlessly multi-tasked on the stage, picking up instruments, moving sets, singing brilliantly, dancing. The Cappuccino Girls, a trio of three Sixties style waitress singers, were particularly impressive,  as were the four lonely hearts who sang I Just Don’t Know What To Do With Myself to the empty chairs of their long-gone partners.

On the directing front, it would be significantly less than a ten, darrrrling, for Craig Revel Horwood – some of the acting and even occasionally the dance routines bordered on the hammy. But let’s face it, many a musical has flourished with a large side serving of fromage and I’m not adverse to the whiff myself from time to time. Certainly the auditorium was packed on the first night and this tour looks like a success story in the making – it continues into 2018 with another 25 towns and cities to tour.

My advice? Take your mum, she’ll love it.

‘Son of a Preacher Man’ performances until Sat 2 Dec, Wycombe Swan, St Mary St, High Wycombe, HP11 2XE. wycombeswan.co.uk

 

 

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