The Band at the Opera House, Manchester

Theatre Reviewthe-band-let-it-shine-gary

Writer: Tim Firth

Music: Take That

Director:  Kim Gavin and Jack Ryder

The Band is not the first time Take That hits have been transformed into a Musical. However, this time, it’s very different.

Based on a true story about five girls who all share a love and obsession for a boy band. The plot sounds simple enough, however, the Band is not like a lot of the jukeboxes out there which focus more on the music than anything else. Instead, plot and words take centre stage and the music comes second. It’s a welcome step change in the genre of jukebox musicals but there are some areas where it feels the emotional depth of the plot could go even further.

Five to Five (AJ Bentley, Nick Carsberg, Curtis T Johns, Yazdan Qafouri and Sario Solomon) play the boys of the band. They look and play the parts well and when they are not performing on the concert stage they perform as almost a Greek chorus throughout. They’re incredibly talented vocally and handle Kim Gavin’s traditional boyband choreography with ease – including working with capes which are very reminiscent of the movement used in Harry Potter and the Cursed Child.

At the centre of the production are the fans. Faye Christall, Katy Clayton, Rachelle Diedericks, Sarah Kate Howarth and Lauren Jacobs play the younger incarnations of Rachel, Heather, Debbie, Claire and Zoe. They bond together and have a large amount of emotional depth between them from upbeat teenage girls to those adapting to a sudden change to their friendship.

The girls very quickly transform into grown women. Rachel Lumberg plays an older Rachel, burdened by her past which is preventing her from stepping into the future. Lumberg creates a captivating character that you can emotionally engage with. Alison Fitzjohn plays an older Claire, a very likeable character who displays a comfortable and proud front while struggling internally. Emily Joyce and Jayne McKenna play an older Heather and Zoe who complete the friendship group. Together, they bounce off each other and maintain the friendship that is brought through by the younger cast members,

The Band creates a likeable and relatable story about living in the moment and accepting the past in order to move forward in the future. Tim Firth’s script is funny and very reminiscent of the 1990s when boy bands dominated the pop industry. The music will certainly please the Take That fans but while this unique production could delve into its emotional core, the plot has is good and does justice to the true story it’s based on. This is not just another jukebox musical.

3_5Stars

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