Take That’s partnership with scriptwriter Tim Firth produces an exceptionally vivacious musical with a relevant message.
The musical tells the story of a group of 16-year-old friends obsessed with ‘the band’, who find themselves trying to meet their idols 25 years later while reflecting on how their lives have changed.
The titular role is played by reality show boyband Five to Five. Even though the boys aren’t necessarily at the forefront of the musical, their performances are flawless, and it’s clear to see how they bagged the crown on BBC One’s Let It Shine. They provide the soundtrack for the girls’ journey through their lives and along the way the audience sees them as many different characters, posing as everything from pilots to a highly convincing Czech statue.
At times, the staging felt very ambitious, often feeling overcrowded. However, due to extremely smooth set and costume changes, this could be forgiven.
An immediate air of nostalgia is set as the show opens with the main character introducing her younger self dancing to Top of the Pops. We all have experiences of being young and having an overwhelming obsession, and of life perhaps not panning out how you had envisioned, so the story is relatable to audiences of any age. Underneath the sweet, uplifting music of the 90s band, a serious message takes hold.
Take That members Gary Barlow, Mark Owen and Howard Donald alongside Robbie Williams and producers David Pugh and Dafydd Rogers take care to ensure that there is a steady balance between the upbeat, party atmosphere and the many sobering moments.
Admittedly, tears were shed at least three times throughout the musical: the superb acting makes it easy to feel sympathy for the characters. The chemistry between the actresses playing the younger girls and those performing as their older counterparts is particularly captivating.
The result of the cast’s incredible efforts, along with marvellous direction from Kim Gavin and Jack Ryder is both a touching trip down memory lane and an all-round uplifting experience. The Band‘s exciting and fresh approach to the world of musicals is a must-see, and one that will leave you with Take That on a loop for days.
The Band plays at the Lyceum Theatre until Saturday 14 October 2017, before continuing on its UK tour.