Finally, one of the most talked about shows in recent months is coming to the West End! I´m talking about The Band.
Gary Barlow’s ‘Let it Shine’ TV talent search ended approximately two years ago, and now the Take That jukebox musical is making its way to the Theatre Royal Haymarket. Destined so far to only play a limited season of 50 shows, The Band was written by Tim Firth (who also co-wrote musical ‘The Girls’ with Barlow) and is not a show just focussed on the TV show’s winners. These are given a supporting role. The Band actually focusses on the lives of five teenage girl fans of the band. Throughout the show we are taken on a journey, looking at how their lives change drastically over 25 years, and the role that music plays in their lives.
Picture the scene; it´s the nineties and five young school friends are infatuated and obsessed with a band. We can all relate to this scene from our younger years when a true passion for a band that just overtook our lives, having the school lockers and notebooks all plastered with images of the singers. For many, this is a scene that captivates and is a reminder of times gone by.
However, the joyous mood is soon ended. Tragedy strikes which has a massive impact on the young group of friends. The group starts to drift apart, and things just are not the same again.
When the band reunites 25 years later, the friends decide to make a comeback of their own. This time Rachel is played by Rachel Lumberg, Claire is Alison Fitzjon, Heather is Emily Joyce, and Zoe is Jayne McKenna. As luck would have it, another competition win unites them all and gives them the chance to once again see their idols perform, this time in Prague. However, it is hard for them to all move on.
Since they last saw each other, all of the girl’s lives have changed dramatically. However, one link keeps them all together: The Band. This link will be a hard bond to break.
Despite being a musical featuring the music of Take That; both lovers of the band and those that aren’t will enjoy this musical. This is in no way shape or form a tribute act to Take That. If anything, Take That just play a supporting role and take a back seat in a journey of a story that focusses primarily on a beautiful and wonderful friendship. The Band aren’t Gary, Mark, Howard, Robbie, and Jason – they’re AJ, Nick, Curtis, Yazdan and Sario, the winners of a Gary Barlows TV competition to find the stars of the new stage show. And they’re not even always a band on stage; they’re cleaners, bus passengers, airport workers…
If anything, it is this deviation away from Take That which makes the whole play work fluidly. There are subtle but ingenious hints towards Take That which if you are not a fan you might miss, but if you are a die-hard fan then it will make you beam from ear to ear. Like when the friends get off a plane in Prague and walk down the passenger stairs while singing Shine. It is the little parts like this that show off the genius writing that has taken the songs of Take That and turned the play into a story about the ups and downs of friendship.
The songs of Take That are just used as a backdrop throughout and the chart-topping hits certainly make for a finger tapping, top stomping soundtrack. We have said this before, but it is certainly not a story about the life and times of Take That. It is a rollercoaster that works wonderfully as a metaphor for what friendship can be like. It is heart-warming, funny, sad and at times utterly bonkers. Fans of Take That will simply adore it for its nods towards Take That, the references and of course the music. And for those that are more fans of theatre than the most successful boy band in modern times then this will be well worth a watch too. There is something for everyone in this wonderful production and you will not go home without a smile on your face and without feeling thankful for your friends!
The whole cast was incredible. The actresses who play the young group of friends are absolutely fantastic and there is truly some great up and coming talent within those ranks. Of course, The Band were amazing and well deserve their place on stage and work fantastically as a group. However, the biggest cheer for me was for the girls – both the ones from the nineties and the ones 25 years later. Their heart-warming yet sometimes heart-breaking portrayal of ordinary women who were brought together by music, separated by tragedy and then reunited by music is a story that can certainly relate to many people.
The whole show just proves how strong an effect music can play in our lives. It shows perfectly what love for music can do, and the power it possesses, and it is a story that will relate to many members of the audience.
This is certainly a production you do not want to miss out on!