Touring – reviewed at the New Wimbledon Theatre, London
Whether you’re an avid fan of Take That, or you just know a few of the hit songs, get yourself along to The Band for a show full of friendship, laughs, emotion and nostalgia. The story is compelling and relatable to anyone who’s ever hardcore admired a band, performer or celebrity.
The story opens with our main protagonist, Rachel, exclaiming how she grew up ‘The Band’, and judging by the buzzing audience of the New Wimbledon Theatre, many of them did too. From the get-go, the show is well paced and bubbling with energy as we flashback to the group of five young friends as they fangirl over their boys. Their portrayal of head-over-heels fans is truthful, witty and exudes youth as the girls are as loyal to each other as they are to the band.
The Band themselves reappear throughout to perform a number of Take That’s greatest hits, both old and new. In the iconic outfits and with the classic moves, they really embody Take That and bring to life the spirit and energy of a band of friends who love performing with one another. They also do a wonderful job of propelling the story forward.
The show takes a sudden turn after the first couple of scenes when tragedy strikes and the tight-knit friend group are broken apart. Fast forward 25 years and we see how the girls have settled into their various lives. The grown-up Rachel, (played by Rachel Lumberg) seems to be living her dream life but is unable to move on from the childhood tragedy that struck. Once again feels drawn to the band. Lumberg plays the role with a beautiful balance and sense of realism; wonderfully showing off her exuberant qualities, along with the side which is struggling with loss.
As the friends reunite, the show really powers on and the story of each girl has something audience members can relate to. Act Two includes a number of hilarious group scenes, accompanied by great musical performances. Despite the name, this show isn’t about The Band, it’s about the leading ladies who steal the show and our hearts with their sincere and charismatic performances. Whilst the girls always had The Band at the forefront of their lives, it was their friendships that glued them together and created a bond that even time apart, couldn’t break.
The entire cast are superbly strong. The Boys, played by AJ Bentley, Curtis T Johns, Yazdan Qafouri, Nick Carsberg and Sario Solomon provide the perfect starring moments as well as backing moments where they blend in as a natural part of the story. The Girls, both young and old are perfectly cast to be highly realistic whilst giving fantastic performances.
Alongside the cast, Jon Bausor’s set is a real star of the show; with screens cleverly transporting us to concerts and music videos. A particular stand out, set moment is when the blue confetti used earlier in the show is cleverly fanned out by The Band to create The Flood over the audience. Small details like this, really step this show up from a simple musical, to something special.
The small cast do a fantastic job of creating a high-energy piece which feels full of love and life. From post-show audience reactions, it’s clear that The Band has many fans and the show is sure to continue delighting audiences on tour and in it’s upcoming stint at the Theatre Royal Haymarket. For a story that will have you beaming and tearing up like the roller coaster of life, accompanied by a thrilling score, get yourself along to The Band and live your best fangirl life.