Take That’s new musical, The Band, has stormed onto the stage and with writer Tim Firth behind the book, it hopes to shine. The Band has been in works for quite some time and even gained national attention through the 2017 BBC reality show, Let It Shine. Barlow searched for his five boys to play the bandmates and the show’s winners, AJ Bentley, Nick Carsberg, Curtis T Johns, Yazdan Qafouri and Sario Soloman, slot into the role.
Though, the musical is not actually about the boys but rather a group of girls who bond over their love of the band in their adolescence. The bandmates play an integral part in making the show what it is but the story mainly focuses 25 years later when the girls reunite and reconnect.
We are introduced to Rachel – a sixteen-year-old girl obsessed with ‘the band’ and her best friend, Debbie, wins a radio competition for them and their three other friends to see ‘the band’ in concert. Filled with glee, the girls go on their first gig together and it’s then that we see their strong bond.
After a tragedy hits, years pass and the girls move on from each other – only for Rachel to win another radio competition more than two decades later and sees this as a reason for reuniting. Our bandmates lead the scenes in various costumes and characters but always serenading with the well-known melodies of the Take That catalogue.
Jon Bausor’s set, projections and overall design is ambitious and impressive. However, Kim Gavin’s direction is just as busy and sometimes you’re not too sure where to look with all the scene changes, overlapping and the boys harmonising around every angle of the stage, however colourful and glitzy it may be. Caught in the relatable excitement of music lovers and groupies, the show can afford to slow down and take a breath at times.
Firth’s book is very similar to that of his last West End musical, The Girls (now known as Calendar Girls: The Musical) – a few good jokes, florid scenes as well as attempting some more deeper, heartfelt moments. The cast are strong, especially Faye Christall and Rachel Lumberg (playing Young Rachel and Rachel, respectively) as well as Katy Clayton (Young Heather) and Emily Joyce (Heather) who both bring out some great moments.
The show isn’t afraid to laugh at itself and reflect the ridiculousness of being ‘obsessed’ with boybands back in your youth. The boys play a perfect parody of Take That and their fans from their heyday – the production even dabbles into concert-mode at times.
The Band is the fastest selling touring show and it’s quite obvious to see why. People who are fans of Take That, Let It Shine or just want a fun night out at the theatre will buy a ticket. If none of that sells it for you, it may not be the right fit.
Review by Tomm Ingram
THE BAND is a musical about what it’s like to grow up with a boyband. For five 16 year-old friends in 1992, ‘the band’ is everything. 25 years on, we are reunited with the group of friends, now 40-something women, as they try once more to fulfil their dream of meeting their heroes.
THE BAND is directed by Kim Gavin and Jack Ryder, designed by Jon Bausor and choreographed by Kim Gavin. It is produced by David Pugh & Dafydd Rogers and Gary Barlow, Howard Donald, Mark Owen, Robbie Williams.
Theatre Royal Haymarket
1 December 2018 – 12 January 2019
TOUR SCHEDULE (Previous dates not listed)
New Wimbledon Theatre
23 – 27 October 2018
30 October – 3rd November 2018
New Theatre, Oxford
19 – 23 February 2019
New Victoria Theatre, Woking
5 – 9 March 2019
Milton Keynes Theatre, Milton Keynes