It’s 1993. Five teenage girls set out for the night of their lives after one of their number wins tickets to see ‘The Band’, the biggest boy band in the world. But a tragedy at the end of the evening sees the lives they had been dreaming of shattered forever, and the hopes and dreams they once held so dear shattered along with the friendships they thought would last forever. But 25 years on, one of the girls once again wins a competition to see ‘The Band’, this time on their comeback tour in Prague, and reconnects with her teenage friends. Can this trip help them reconnect with their old selves, and maybe change their life paths once again?
This is the premise of ‘The Band’, a surprisingly touching, pathos laden jukebox musical that celebrates both the music of Take That, and also what it meant to be a teenage girl obsessed with them. The Band themselves were put together in the TV series ‘Let it Shine’, and act almost as a Greek chorus for the events that follow, interspersed with moments in concert. It works really well.
The performances are uniformly excellent, from the younger girls who bring zest and charm to the teenage girls (Faye Christall, Katy Clayton, Rachelle Diedericks, Sarah Kate Howarth and Lauren Jacobs), with Katy Clayton offeriing a scene stealing performance as the flighty, flirty Heather. The brilliant characterisations are continued by the women who play the girls in the present day, with Rachel Lumberg as Rachel and Alison Fitzjohn who plays Claire really standing out with the ability to make you laugh one minute, and cry the next.
Whether you love the music very much depends if you love Take That, but the songs are performed with note perfect finesse and passion by the boys(AJ Bentley, Curtis T Johns, Yazdan Gafouri, Sario Solomon and Harry Brown), all naturally talented singers and dancers with heaps of charm and personality. Highlights include the performance of The Flood, and Prey – appearing in a teenage Rachel’s bedroom to sing just for her, the ultimate teen dream.
The Band is a highly polished show with some brilliant staged set pieces – in particular, the amazing opening when we move from a giant TV showing Top of the Pops, to a teenage girls bedroom, and also the airport scenes.
If you are a Take That fan, this is not to be missed. If you aren’t, you will still find a lot to enjoy in this trip down teen memory lane.