The Band - Theatre Review

September 24, 2018 by

Jukebox musicals are always a bit of a hit or miss affair.  Often cobbling a greatest hits album around a rather flimsy narrative.  There are some notable successes.  Mamma Mia set the bar high and continues to thrive.  Surely Gary Barlow wouldn’t have sold out his music for anything less than magnificent?  Then again, look at The Spice Girls and Viva Forever! 

So here we are at The Cliff’s Pavilion, to watch the much anticipated Take That musical, otherwise known as ‘The Band’. Judging by the packed auditorium, this was one hell of a popular show.  

It would have been so easy to make this the story of Take That.  Their rise and fall and subsequent resurrection in the music industry. Yet, the writer, Tim Firth, did not walk this well-trodden path and instead focused on a group of five fabulous women.  A surprise considering the primetime BBC talent show was to find the five male members of the boy band.

We first meet the women at 16 years old, back in 1993. Inseparable friends, learning about life and idolising over their favourite pop group.  We catch up with the women 25 years later as they reunite to try once more to fulfil their dream of meeting The Band and repairing a friendship that had been rocked with tragedy.  

All the girls were fantastic.  Funny, feisty and belligerent, they ignited a happy nostalgia of life as a 16-years old.  Katy Clayton, as the young Heather, really stood out for me with her very clever wit and charm. 

So too were the older women, as their adult counterpart.  Instantly relatable with fantastic vocals.  A lovely rendition of ‘Back For Good’, featuring all the women, was particularly effective.

Despite all this, the lads in ‘The Band’ still pulled the spotlight.  I was expecting the 5 young, talented guys to be at the front, back and centre of the stage throughout the entire show.  Instead they laced through the storyline, popping up in the background as well as literally jumping out of the scenery. Performing, at times, as if they are on a concert stage, they were every inch the boyband you’d hope to see.

There was real warmth and humour to the show and I couldn’t help but get caught in the emotional pull of the story. The scenery was simple but effective. Small touches, such as the subtle recreation of the cover of the Progress album, added to the staging.  

Since seeing the show, the world and his wife appear to have tickets, so get in there quick!  It’s a great night out, great music and a funny and poignant storyline.  Well done Take That, you did good.

On at Southend Cliff’s Pavilion until Saturday 29th September.  

To book your tickets click here