SON Of A Preacher Man, a heart-warming new musical built around the soulful music of Dusty Springfield, visits the Grand Opera House, York, from Tuesday to Saturday on its first ever British tour.

Written by Warner Brown and directed and choreographed by Strictly Come Dancing judge Craig Revel Horwood, with Diana Vickers and Debra Stephenson in his cast, the show weaves 20 songs into the fantasy story of three random strangers with romantic problems.

Each seeks solace in the Preacher Man, a Soho record store famous from the Sixties, where they hope a fabled, mysterious love guru will dispense advice to cure their lonely hearts.

"It’s a joy to work on," says Revel Horwood. "The Dusty music lends itself to good storytelling, and that’s really important: her stories always have a beginning, a middle and an end and they’re very soulful. A lot of people will be surprised when they see the songs come to life. Her lyrics are really quite poignant. She tells human stories with amazing rhythms that can be applied to men or women and crosses through to being gay as well. That’s why her music is universal."

Diana Vickers, who appeared previously at the Grand Opera House as Janet in The Rocky Horror Show last year, will play Kat, a feisty young orphan grieving the death of her grandmother and looking for love via dating apps. "She’s big and loud and in your face, but I think what’s going on under the surface is she’s quite insecure," says Vickers, who will sing such Dusty standards as I Only Want To Be With You, Some Of Your Lovin’ and Stay Awhile.

The chance to play a well-crafted character led Vickers to audition for the role. "It was more of a play with music; it’s not a big jazz hands musical," she says. "With the acting there’s more to get my teeth into. Even when I went on The X Factor I said, ‘Obviously I want to be a pop star but I’d love to be an actor'. I loved doing my albums but it was very much, ‘I won’t be doing this forever'."

York Press:

Diana Vickers, as Kat, and Liam Vincent-Kilbride, as Mike, in Son Of A Preacher Man

Vickers grew up with the sounds of Dusty Springfield in the family home and connected with her even more when playing LV, the damaged, reluctant young performer in Jim Cartwright's The Rise And Fall Of Little Voice, performing Dusty's You Don’t Have To Say You Love Me in her cabaret medley. "Dusty’s just got so much emotion in her voice. She’s this soul-jazz-pop singer, all the genres in this perfect mix," she says.

Mimic Debra Stephenson leaves behind the impressions in her first ever musical role, although initially she hoped she would be asked to play Dusty Springfield herself when she first heard about the show.

Instead she appears as Alison, one of the three heartbroken strangers seeking counsel for their hopeless romantic agonies. "She’s a very decent person but very vulnerable," says Stephenson. "She’s trying to move on but, instead of dealing with the grief of being widowed, she has become besotted with a student. The person she’s hankering after really is her husband."

The Dusty songbook has lyrics aplenty that can be mapped on to a story of heartbreak, such as Stephenson's solo number, All I See Is You. "She sang very emotive songs with all her heart. She put her soul into it and that’s what makes her music special," she says. "Everyone has their own pain that allows them to relate to the songs."

Son Of A Preacher Man stays awhile at Grand Opera House, York, from Tuesday to Saturday, 7.30pm plus 2.30pm Wednesday and Saturday matinees. Box office: 0844 871 3024 or at