Reviewed by Catherine Brown
Expect a rollercoaster of emotions when watching ‘The Band’, a new musical written by Tim Firth featuring the songs of Take That. With a boy band cast through the BBC reality television show ‘Let it Shine’, the show is currently at the Regent Theatre, Stoke-on-Trent.
Even before the curtain was lifted, we were transported back to the early 90’s using images of Ceefax pages. The show begins with the introduction of 5 teenage girls whose life revolves around the shared love of their favourite band. Each have different backgrounds and attitudes to life – Zoe loves books while Heather loves boys, Claire is sporty while Rachel dreams of getting married. Although Debs makes their day when she wins tickets for them to go to watch the band, after the concert disaster strikes and their friendship is tested.
The story is interspersed with familiar songs from every decade of Take That, including ‘Shine’, ‘Relight my fire’ and ‘A million love songs’. These are all sung by the boys who won the tv show, although on our night, 2 of the parts were delivered by understudies – not that we noticed as everything seemed to run smoothly.
The show then jumps forward 25 years and we are reintroduced to Rachel who has won tickets to see the band in Prague. She takes the opportunity to reunite with her estranged friends as they discover how their life has changed in the decades they have been apart. References are made to ‘having a break’, ‘reforming’ and ‘making a comeback’ – all linking to the inspiration of the musical ‘Take That’ without explicitly naming them.
Anyone who has survived being a teenager, with music to help them, will be able to relate to the girls in the show. While the boys are obviously talented singers, and recreated the music well with support of excellent staging and costumes, the performances from the girls (as children and adults) were both entertaining and emotional. ‘Every Dave’ was an especially funny character who helped fill in roles such as the school caretaker, a policeman or a bus driver.
The theatre is in the Hanley area of the city and has plenty of parking nearby. In the downstairs foyer visitors can purchase drinks, snacks and merchandise while the Piano Bar upstairs is a beautiful room to relax with a drink and chat to friends. It was possible to pre-order drinks for the interval.
Before the performance began the audience were reminded not to use their mobile phones – I would advise you to only put them on silent rather than turn them off as they do come in handy towards the end of the show! The upbeat energy of the songs along with the encouragement to dance, sing and clap along put a smile on everyone’s face. This did contrast with some emotional moments but overall this is a feel good show about friendship and chasing our dreams.
I would certainly recommend a girl’s night out to see this show – the energy and enthusiasm of the whole cast is contagious and the witty one liners help to earn ‘The Band’ a 5/5 rating.
Tickets cost from £12.90 to £53.40 (plus £2.85 transaction fee).
The Band is at the Regent Theatre in Stoke from 28 November to 9 December 2017, for more information or to book tickets visit www.atgtickets.com/regent-theatre or call the box office on 0844 871 7649.
Regent Theatre, Piccadilly, Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire, ST1 1AP | 0844 871 7649