Touring – reviewed at Bristol Hippodrome
Guest reviewer: Isobelle Desbrow
The Band tells the story, as the name suggests, of a band, but more importantly a group of friends who have been reunited after tragedy by their love of said band.
The first act of the story centres around a group of friends Rachel (Faye Christall), Heather (Katy Clayton), Claire (Sarah Kate Howarth), Debbie (Rachelle Diedericks) and Zoe (Lauren Jacobs) who’s love of The Band and a competition win from Debbie takes them to Manchester to watch their favourites live. After some tuneful singing and dancing we learn that tragedy strikes; this leads to a wonderfully worded tear-jerking moment. They are all fabulous young actresses who really hold the story together in the first act.
We move on to meet the adult Rachel (Rachel Lumberg), Claire (Alison Fitzjohn), Heather (Emily Joyce) and Zoe (Jayne McKenna) who bring the first act to a real show-stopping end with their spectacular rendition of ‘Shine. Their energy and passion are very enjoyable to watch and continue into the second act.
The Band is played by AJ Bentley, Nick Carsberg, Yazdan Qafouri Isfahani, Curtis T Johns and Sario Solomon. You can clearly see why they were chosen from the BBC series Let It Shine as they all have exceptional voices and while not always at the forefront of the singing, they add a professional and clean backing track to all songs.
A special mention I feel must go to the costume and set design team, as they somehow manage to create amazing scenes in a very short amount of time. Over both halves I counted no less than 15 costume changes, each telling a story of their own.
As for set, being able to create a plane, or bus on stage so simply but with great effect was amazing to see.
Going into the second act we follow older Rachel. 25yrs on from when we first met this group of girls. Rachel Lumberg is an exceptional actress and deserves a lot of praise for the emotion and brilliance she brings to the part and really does bring the second act together.
The Band in the second act also really shine. During the first act they are mainly used as backing singers, however come act 2 they belt out some powerful and exceptionally sounding verses and choruses for some of Take That’s best know songs. They made the show a musical.
Overall the show was a success, if given the chance I would probably go and watch it again, as I felt the cast was exceptionally strong even when the story lacked motivation.