90's, Boyband, Friendship, Growing up, Memories, Music, Musical, Take That, The Band, Theatre, Throwback

Musical Theatre Review: The Band

Show: The Band
Date: 18th January 2019
Venue: Lowry Theatre, Salford Quays

Just to recap for those who didn’t now – I’m a massive fan of Take That and have been for years. When I heard that there was going to be a jukebox musical, based on the music of the band, I knew I had to go and watch it.

Now, being the TT geek that I am, I was also aware that this wasn’t the first musical out there to feature their music. Back in 2007, a musical called Never Forget was launched which toured UK theatres and had a short residency in London’s west end. I went to see it a few times and it was a great show. The storyline for this show was all about a Take That tribute band, who entered a talent competition to win the top prize of £10,000 and use the money to save a family business.

In the case of this new musical, a Saturday night talent show was aired on BBC1 in 2017 titled “Let It Shine”. The purpose of which was to find five young lads who would feature in the upcoming musical as ‘the band’. Gary Barlow was head judge (with input from Mark Owen and Howard Donald) and he was joined by Dannii Minogue and Martin Kemp to find their fab five.

Let It Shine gave us AJ Bentley, Nick Carsberg, Curtis T Johns, Yazdan Qafouri and Sario Solomon.

2063

(Photo: Matt Crocker / PA)

It was then announced to the world how the musical was going to go and according to The Stage
“The show will feature the music of Take That, but will not be about the lives of the band members. Instead it will follow five 16-year-old girls who are fans of the band. The parts have been cast, but names are yet to be announced. Let It Shine’s winning act, will not have any spoken lines in the production.”

tenor.gif

To be honest, I thought it was mad that this entire series had just been televised, devoted to finding the five lads and now they weren’t even going to be speaking in the production?! And it was going to be all about five 16 year old girls instead? I had no idea how it was going to work but I reserved my judgement.

“The Band” as the production was titled, kicked off at the Manchester Opera House in September 2017 but it took me until this year to get around to finally seeing it. I’d actually purchased the tickets a year beforehand, so it was long overdue!

snapchat-2121694099

(Photo: My own)

The storyline’s main focus is on Rachel Ditchfield, played by Faye Christall. We see her kick off the show as a 16 year old in the 90’s with a huge obsession with The Band. As it turns out, The Band are never referred to by a name e.g. Take That, One Direction etc. They are only ever mentioned as ‘the band’ or as a “oh my god did you see them on Top of The Pops last night?!”

Rachel’s love for The Band is colossal and given tensions between her parents, it provides her with an escape. In the opening number we see Rachel dancing away in her bedroom to Pray and turning up the volume when she hears her parents arguing. I loved this opener as not only is Pray my favourite Take That song, but the idea of The Band being ‘in’ Rachel’s bedroom went beyond posters on walls – The Band actually came to life and came out from inside of her wardrobe and other pieces of furniture to perform the song and the famous dance routine. I really enjoyed how this number showed just how immersed you can be within music/your favourite band.

theband9c9_k

(Photo: Matt Crocker / PA)

Luckily for Rachel, she has four best friends who are all as crazy about The Band as she is: Claire, Debbie, Heather and Zoe. We see the girls congregate at school, giddy with excitement over The Band’s newest hit. But that’s not all…

Debbie announces that she’s won a competition for tickets for The Band’s latest concert and that they were all going that evening – the girls can’t believe their luck! After the show, they discuss how amazing it had been and how they are going to be friends forever. Unfortunately, soon after, tragedy strikes and something happens that will change the course of the girl’s lives forever.

We’re then brought right up to date. Twenty-five years later, Rachel (now played by Rachel Lumberg) is at home with her partner Jeff, when an announcement comes on the radio. Rachel has won a competition to see The Band live in Prague, all expenses paid. It will be the first time Rachel has seen them since their comeback and Jeff can’t wait to hit Prague and sample the ales. The only thing is, Rachel doesn’t want to take Jeff and their friends with her – she wants to take her friends.

3400

(Photo: Matt Crocker / PA)

It’s now that we learn that despite their promise, the girls had drifted apart. Rachel sees this win as a golden opportunity to not only see her favourite band again, but to reunite the old gang and rekindle the friendship they once shared. But will Rachel get her wish, or will their lives just be too different now?

This show was unbelievably enjoyable, even for non Take That fans. Given that the show is more a celebration of friendship and growing up and isn’t Take That’s backstory, there’s something in it for everyone. Of course, in my (not so humble) opinion, the music within the show is fantastic; but what I liked most about the choices of song was the fact that they didn’t just shoehorn any old number in. Take That’s back catalogue is vast, but each song had been carefully chosen and suited the scenes perfectly.

snapchat-1763243726

(Photo: My own)

The show was peppered with nostalgia. Whilst waiting on the show to begin there was a screen showing the Top 40 countdown from good old Ceefax – who remembers that? And there’s also nods towards Top of The Pops and Smash Hits.

snapchat-297130703

(Photo: My own)

The script strikes the right balance between making you chuckle and making you feel emotional. Both sets of the cast – the girls from the 90s and the women of today – were excellent. The lads who made up ‘The Band’ were (for the most part) in fine voice. My only criticism really was that there were an odd couple of moments where the vocals were slightly shaky. I did notice that two of the original winners from the BBC series were not there on my night, and had been replaced with understudies. Perhaps they’d not yet completely found their groove as a different five-some. But this is only a very minor gripe.

The set design was very clever and we had everything from bedrooms, school corridors and the top of a hill, to a concert, a bus, a plane and a fountain in Prague. All the while during scenes, The Band were interwoven to provide the soundtrack for that particular moment… I just wonder why none of The Band aged 25 years?!

ltor-yazdan-qafouri-curtis-t-johns-nick-carsberg-aj-bentley-and-sario-solomon-in-the-band-credit-matt-crockett

(Photo: Matt Crocker / PA)

Overall, I laughed and I cried – so much of the show resonated with me as a Take That fan from way back when, to a fan still to this day. It was a great trip down memory lane and a reminder that when we have amazing friends, we should do all that we can to hold on to them. I definitely recommend this production!

You can find all of the remaining tour dates here.

31 thoughts on “Musical Theatre Review: The Band”

  1. This sounds like such a fun musical – would love to see this one day! I remember Let It Shine, but I had no idea it was to cast them for this musical. My mum was obsessed with that show, haha.

    OMG, that Ceefax screen just hit me right in the feels with nostalgia. Damn!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. We walked into the theatre and straight away I was like “OMG – CEEFAX!” 😂😂 I’d definitely recommend a trip to this musical. Thank you for reading ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I’ve never been a huge Take That fan but I’m glad you had such an amazing time and that you had such a connection with the show as well. I think we can all relate to being a fan of a band or artist and feeling that connection and resonance (: Also that ceefax screen made me so nostalgic too!!! I haven’t seen one of them in so long it’s surreal haha. Thanks for sharing xx

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I was always on Ceefax and Teletext when I was a kid, there were games on there that I used to play 😂 Thank you for reading!

      Like

  3. I wasn’t too sure about the band when I saw it advertised but it does actually sound pretty decent! I’m glad you had a good time 🙂 I genuinely enjoyed reading this! 🙂
    Nic | nicprks.com x

    Liked by 1 person

  4. What a great review! I really want to see the show now. I am so out of touch, I hadn’t even heard of ‘The Band’ before. I was a huge Take That fan in the 90s! My Mum and I went to all the concerts and even sat outside Mark Owen and Robbie Williams’ houses haha xxx

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ahhh that’s amazing! My older sister went to Mark’s place in Oldham a good few times in the 90s but I was never allowed as I was too young – even though I loved them! 😂 You should definitely try to check it out. Thank you for reading!

      Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s