Son Of A Preacher Man At The New Alex Theatre

The wondrous, timeless music of Dusty Springfield filled the New Alex Theatre last night with the opening of the crowd pleasing musical ‘Son of a Preacher Man’, a jukebox musical telling a story of unrequited love using the classic hits of the great lady. And while ‘Son of a Preacher Man’ is no classic, it’s talented cast and those wonderful songs make it a good solid night of entertainment.

The story revolves around three lonely people who are all suffering from loss and have been unlucky in love. Paul (Michael Howe) is still yearning for Jack, a man he met at the Preacher Man record shop in the 1960s, but never revealed his feelings to. Alison (Debra Stephenson) is a lonely widow who has developed feelings for a barely legal schoolboy she has been tutoring (the most uncomfortable storyline to be honest), whilst Kat (Diana Vickers) has just lost her gran and is yearning for a gorgeous hunk(Liam Vincent-Kilbride) who rejected her profile on Match.com. These three people all descend on the old Preacher Man record store on Dean Street, Soho, in the hope of finding some answers from the legendary owner. Instead they find his son (hence the title) Simon, played by Ian Reddington, who has none of the charisma of his father, with the record shop now turned into a coffee bar. But maybe Simon, with the help of the trusty(and rather fabulous Cappuccino Sisters) can help these lonely, lost people find true love somehow.

The cast is excellent, with Diana Vickers showing just why she should’ve won X Factor with ease. She adds her own spin on the Dusty songs, and with the exception of the thrusting and gyrating of ‘Stay Awhile’ each number is a success. Ian Reddington underplays his role to give a natural, lovely performance as Simon, a man lost in the shadows of his father. Debra Stephenson tackles what could be a difficult, uneasy role so well, making Alison come across as sweet and lonely rather than predatory, whilst it would be hard not to love Michael Howe as still hopeful Paul, he plays the role with such charm and enthusiasm. And I loved the Cappuccino sisters, great singers and performers who added a touch of early 1960s era humour to the show.

 

But it has to be said that the story is paper thin, with the ending where everyone suddenly finds love at exactly the same time feeling rather rushed, and maybe just a little too twee for what is, after all, adult entertainment. And, I still need to understand why the bereavement counselor was dancing like a chicken and dressed in what looked like bondage gear…yes that was a strange moment.

So when it comes to Son of a Preacher Man, I liked it, but didn’t love it. But if you love the music of Dusty Springfield this could be the one for you.

 

Son of a Preacher Man

New Alex Theatre 14-16th September

Click here for ticket information.

The Rocket Singing Machine – Fabulous Fun!

If you have a budding Adele or Ed Sheeran, then you may want to take a look at the Rocket Singing Machine. Promising to turn any music fan into a ‘singing superstar’, the easy to use microphone not only allows your voice to be amplified, it also allows you to add echo and sound effects. You can also link it to the internet via Bluetooth, thus allowing you to also play music through the singing machine that you can then sing along too. This is hours of fun for your children, and also a perfect addition to house parties for karaoke fans (although you might want to invest in some earplugs for the neighbours…)

The Rocket singing machine is very easy to use. It takes 3 AAA batteries and is then operated by a switch in the centre of the device. Two further switches on the front of the machine allow you to control sound and echo, and you can simply use the machine in this way, to sing along to MTV or the radio, or just to sing your own songs. In fact, you don’t have to sing songs. My boy has used his machine to commentate on televised football, or just to shout slogans and catchphrases. (unbelievable tekkers being his fave).

The Rocket can then also be used to play music through connection to a bluetooth device, you can then sing along to all your favourite songs, adjusting your vocals  with the control switches. It is completely wireless, meaning you can totally polish up any performance and add dance steps until you totally rival Ariana Grande.

Competition Time

The Rocket Wireless Singing Machine is looking for a star to be the face of Rocket Mic. Could it be your child? If you have a budding star simply send their best singing video to the Rocket Star competition that you can find by clicking here.

Funny Girl – A Star Is Born in Natasha J Barnes

It’s an old cliché, maybe from 42nd Street, that you go on a stage unknown and walk off a star. That is what happened at the Wolverhampton Grand Theatre last night, when Natasha J Barnes, taking on the role of Fanny Brice made famous by Barbara Streisand, gave the performance of her life in ‘Funny Girl’, It echoed another role that Streisand starred in, because truly, a Star was Born.

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Funny Girl has been theatres most recent phenomenon, with Sheridan Smith winning huge plaudits for her performance as Ziegfeld star Fanny Brice. When Sheridan faced a period of illness and personal trouble, Natasha J Barnes took over the role, and she is frankly astounding in it. Her voice is powerful and emotive, her acting is flawless, and her chemistry with co-star Darius Campbell is a joy to watch, especially on their poignant duet ‘Who are you now?’

The story of Fanny Brice, and her love for Nick Arnstein is a tale that is both hilarious and heartbreaking. Fanny had an almost meteoric rise to fame as a genuine ‘Funny Girl,’ becoming a major star in the Ziegfeld Follies (her performance in Glorification of the American Bride is so, so funny.) Along the way she meets and falls in love with the handsome gambler Nick Arnstein and they marry and have a child. Life seems perfect for the star and her man, but Nick’s financial fortunes take a downward step, and Fanny’s need to help and protect him lead to Nick feeling stifled and taking actions that threaten to destroy them both.

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The performance of Natasha J Barnes is superb. Her note perfect performances of the key songs, ‘People’ and ‘Don’t rain on my parade’ are just wonderful, and she is one of those rare performers who can make you laugh out loud, and then try to hide those tears in the same performance. She is matched by her perfect co-star, Darius Campbell, now a world away from ‘Popstars’, he gives a charismatic, sensual performance as Nick. You love how he genuinely loves Brice, and really want his character to turn his fortunes around, a testament to his portrayal. It is hard to think of anyone else who could play Nick with the style and panache of Campbell.

Funny Girl is a stunning piece of musical theatre that charms, entertains and resonates in equal measures. It is one of the must see shows in theatre today. Don’t miss it.

Funny Girl

Wolverhampton Grand Theatre

TUE 25 JUL – SAT 29 JUL

Click here for ticket information