Reviewed by Louise Edwards
Take That’s musical, The Band, showing this week at the Theatre Royal in Nottingham, takes the audience back to the nostalgic days of 1993 when the highlight of the week, for every self-respecting teenage girl, was Thursday’s Top of the Pops.
With Teletext showing us the daily news on a huge screen we are transported into the bedroom of 16-year-old Rachel, played by Faye Christall, along with members of her idols – The Band. No mention is given of who the nameless band members are but the sound and songs are instantly recognisable and need no introduction – hit 90’s boyband Take That.
Written by the amazing Tim Firth, who also wrote Gary Barlow’s critically-acclaimed musical The Girls based on the film Calendar Girls, the story isn’t actually about Take That at all. Instead, it is based on the real-life story of five friends, with their close bond, hopes, and dreams for the future entwined in youthful exuberance. Tragedy strikes as life changing events rip through the group and their lives don’t always pan out quite as they expected as we meet up with them again after 25 years.
The set design by Jon Bausor, is incredible, seamlessly taking the audience from the middle of a Take That concert to a police station in Prague to beneath a jumbo jet at take off! The effects and lighting are impressive, and you can clearly see lighting designer, Patrick Woodrooffe’s, live music experience has been put to good work here to create an arena presence within the theatre.
The show isn’t all cheesy pop hits and good times, however, and it is also incredibly emotional. You are literally one moment laughing and in the next in floods of tears. Throughout the show, there are parallels that are very cleverly orchestrated. The Band is the group of musicians and the physical and metaphysical band of friendship between the girls. There is also the link between what is happening in the girls’ lives and simultaneously Take That – reuniting and being stronger than ever before. With superb acting, comic timing and heartfelt drama, when you are watching it you don’t want it to ever end!
The Band were, of course, formed from the talent show Let It Shine: AJ Bentley, Nick Carsberg, Curtis T Johns, Yazdan Dafouri and Sario Solomon. Their vocals, although maybe not quite the original, is brilliant as is the choreography and production.
The show is really about the fans, in this case Rachel, Claire, Heather, Zoe and Debbie and their stories which many will relate to. It will appeal to Take That diehard fans and also lovers of musical theatre as it brings together everything that is good about both live music and drama. For an emotional rollercoaster of highs and lows don’t miss this awesome show!
Tickets cost from £19.50 to £49.50 (booking fees may apply).
The Band is at the Theatre Royal in Nottingham from12-23 June 2018, for more information or to book tickets visit www.trch.co.uk or call the box office on 0115 989 5555.
Theatre Royal & Royal Concert Hall, Theatre Square, Nottingham, NG1 5ND