With the announcement that the new Take That musical The Band will be coming to the West End later this year, here’s round-up of everything you need to know about the musical.
What is it about?
While this musical is choc-full of Take That hits, the story isn’t actually about Robbie, Jason, Howard, Mark or Gary at all. But it does centre on a fandom of a rather similar looking (and sounding) band.
The musical begins set in the early 1990s, with a group of five friends watching a concert of their favourite boyband. Fast forward 25 years, and the group reunite after they win a competition to see the group again at a gig in Prague. As they meet up, they have the opportunity not only to try and meet their childhood heroes, but also to reflect on how far they’ve come, and their relationships with each other over the past two decades.
Tim Firth, who worked with Gary Barlow on their musical The Girls, has written the book, so if you were a fan of their first venture together, you know the kind of funny, heart-warming story you can expect.
Five to Five, winners of the BBC talent search series Let It Shine, star in the musical as ‘the band’. AJ Bentley, Nick Carsberg, Curtis T Johns, Sario Soloman and Yazdan Qafouri won the competition in 2017, which featured Gary Barlow, Amber Riley and Dannii Minogue as judges.
The four friends who make the trip to Prague are played by Alison Fitzjohn (Claire), Emily Joyce (Heather), Rachel Lumberg (Rachel) and Jayne McKenna (Zoe). The actors playing younger versions of the friends are Faye Christall, Katy Clayton, Rachelle Diedricks, Sarah Kate Howarth and Lauren Jacobs.
Is it any good?
Initial reactions from critics have been positive, with Mark Shenton writing that the piece reminded him of a “pop music version of Stephen Sondheim’s Follies” in a four-star review for The Stage, while The Guardian’s Peter Robinson said it’s “a warmly articulated, exciting and funny celebration of what it is to be a music fan”.
But there is a common observation in all the reviews: if you’re a Take That fan, you will love The Band.