Review: Son of a Preacher Man at Aylesbury Waterside Theatre by Lara Wadey

Sometimes in life seeing or watching something can completely change your day and even alter how you feel. Tonight was one of those occasions for me. I didn’t fancy going out (which is so unlike me). I had a banging headache and just wasn’t in the mood. In fact I was in the mindset that if the show wasn’t any good I was going to leave halfway through. I’m not a Dusty Springfield fan (well I didn’t think I was), nor a lover of jukebox musicals, so I wasn’t feeling particularly inspired, to the point that I asked as I arrived at the theatre if there was in fact a storyline to the show or was it one of those shows when it just went from song to song.

As I had nothing to compare the show with and didn’t even know if I knew Dusty Springfield’s songs, my views are purely on how the show made me feel.

Right from the start it wasn’t at all what I expected, and praise the Lord there was in fact an enthralling storyline! As the show started we were introduced to the three main individuals. An older gay gentleman played by Michael Howe, who was looking for someone he fell in love with way back in his youth; a school teacher played by Michelle Gayle, who felt a connection and thought she was in love with one of her pupils and vice versa; and the youngest of the three, a girl played by Alice Barlow, who had fallen for a guy she had met through a dating website. Their lives were intrinsically brought together as they individually found their separate ways to Soho to find a bar, now a coffee shop, the Double Shot, where they met three enthusiastic waitresses (the Cappucino Sisters) who added a touch of 40’s glamour, and Simon ‘The Son of a Preacher Man’ who eventually agrees to channel his deceased father and attempt to fix their problems.

I think it’s very brave and risky to mix the 1960’s with such a modern story and am quite sure that some people would have been muttering under their breath, questioning whether certain things were indeed appropriate. They definitely touched on a few delicate subjects that brought real life to the stage.

The show was upbeat and colourful throughout, with lots of very funny moments, especially the chicken scene that was simply hilarious!!! I adored the romantic dance scene with the two guys, and actually felt a connection between them which is what theatre is all about. I think it’s very rare these days to feel such chemistry.

The show is probably quite unlike anything I’ve ever seen before, but maybe I felt this way because I wasn’t aware of what to expect. The best way I can describe the show is that it’s pretty much like marmite, you’re gonna love it or hate it! If you’re a huge fan of Dusty then it’s probably not the tribute show you are expecting. Think of it more like a light-hearted show put together to celebrate Dusty Springfield’s hits. Even though I didn’t go as a fan, I thoroughly enjoyed the whole experience and to my surprise found I knew far more of the songs than I had expected. I totally loved the storyline of the three individuals all on their own journey in life, and brought together because of the one thing called ‘love’.

I arrived in a bad mood and left feeling fabulous so to me this is a winner. I’m sure there are those who left with very mixed feelings about the show, those that loved it, those that hated it and those that remain on the fence, unable to decide, but no matter how we felt about it we were all brought together this evening because of one thing. Just as in the three stories we followed this evening, we were all brought together because of ‘love’, the love of theatre, and if that makes one feel good, then it certainly gets the thumbs up from me!

The Son of a Preacher Man runs until Saturday 10th March at Aylesbury Waterside Theatre. Tickets are available from http://www.atgtickets.com/venues/aylesbury-waterside-theatre or call the Box Office on 0844 871 7607.

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