REVIEW | The Band | UK Tour

Take That’s new musical The Band opened their sparkling new musical The Band in Manchester last night to a tumultuous reception in an evening a lot of people will never forget.

Opening in 1992 and centred around five girls and their unbreakable friendship, it’s a heart-warming story about growing up and growing apart. We are introduced to the boyband obsessed 16-year olds Rachel (Faye Christall), Debbie (Rachelle Diedericks), Zoe (Lauren Jacobs), Heather (Katy Clayton) and Claire (Sarah Kate Howarth). Each with their distinct personalities, their dialogue is witty, fresh and playful.

After a tragic accident the girls all go their separate ways, growing up apart from one another. However, 25 years on when Rachel enters a competition to see the reunion concert of The Band, she emails the girls and they reunite for a weekend in Prague.

It’s a whirlwind story of reminiscence as the girls realise how much they’ve changed since their school days. Despite being 25 years on, their friendship instantly clicks back into place and they get up to some hilarious antics throughout their reunion weekend.

Tim Firth’s musical success still shines through his excellently funny dialogue. He manages to completely encapsulate a woman’s persona as the narrative is relatable, pacey and honest. It’s brilliantly amusing but there are many poignant moments where the auditorium falls completely still. Firth’s writing is remarkable as just when you think you’re about to cry, it switches straight back to the humour, creating a strong balance of light and shade in the musical.

 

The seamless transition between the young girls and their older selves is superb and their characterisation is entirely natural and genuine, particularly Rachel Lumberg as older Rachel who connects to the audience through her charismatic warmth.

After the successful BBC series Let It Shine, Five to Five walked away as the winners to star as The Band in the production. Slick dance moves, tight harmonies, and even tighter costumes combine to showcase AJ, Curtis, Sario, Nick and Yazdan as strong performers. All five work incredibly hard in the show with a multitude of costume changes and numerous musical numbers, they perform impeccably with passion, commitment and exceptional talent. From the fast-paced It Only Takes A Minute to the more emotional A Million Love Songs, their vocals exceed them all complementing the musical numbers flawlessly, making us fall in love with Take That all over again.

Although Five To Five don’t speak, they interject the story with relevant Take That numbers that fit sublimely into the storyline, soundtracking the girls’ lives as they grow up. Is it cheesy? Of course. But directors Kim Gavin and Jack Ryder are fully aware of this and play on it really well, creating even more laughs.

The Band is an uplifting musical about growing up, growing old and discovering yourself. The moving friendship between the girls is beautifully crafted and it will make you leave wanting to reconnect with your closest friends.

A guaranteed fun night out at the theatre, you’ll laugh, cry and rekindle your love for Take That’s classic hits in this brand new British musical that is bursting with heart.

★★★★

The Band is on at the Manchester Opera House until the 30th of September before touring the UK, tickets and information can be found here.

 

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