WORTH A LOOK?: ****
WHERE? Theatre Royal Haymarket RUN TIME: 2 hours 5 minutes (excluding 20-minute interval)
WHEN?: 3/12 runs to 12/1/19
Do you remember the 1st time?
- Read on for reasons including how ‘technical difficulties’ caused the show to stop temporarily here
It’s September 1993, Pray is topping the charts and the 5 16-year-old girls at the heart of this Take That jukebox musical have won a competition for tickets to see their heroes for their 1st ever gig.
Cut to a quarter of a century later and their lives haven’t panned out quite how they imagined and they reunite for the 1st time after a tragic event to see the band 1 more time in Prague.
Tim Firth and Gary Barlow last worked together on The Girls and this is much more successful not least because it has the best of Take That’s fine pop back catalogue to draw on.
We’re docking it a * because ‘technical difficulties’ midway through the 2nd act led to a 10-minute break in the action which impeded the impetus it had built up.
It didn’t seem to matter too much to the predominantly female audience however who burst into an impromptu chorus of Back For Good in an attempt to relight the fire.
It seems a long time since band Five To Five won BBC1 Saturday night casting show Let It Shine (early 2017) and The Band actually opened in Manchester in September 2017, touring since before its West End debut here.
The fun doesn’t stop at the close of this run in January with a UK tour continuing for another 3 months in 8 venues before transferring to Berlin and Munich for more than 5 months in 2019.
The Band covers territory including 1st gigs, loves and group infatuation but really it is about the strength of female friendship. It is at its most affecting when the girls reunite and their love for each other really shines through.
A special mention to all of Five To Five, AJ Bentley, Nick Carsberg, Curtis T Johns, Yazdan Qafouri and Sario Solomon. This wouldn’t work if they didn’t look right as a boy band in its imperial phase and convinced as individual singers – and they do in spades.
The most thrilling aspects of this show are when the titular Band is recreating Take That’s best moments not least during an early mash-up of their most energetic hits.
It seems only right to single out a favourite. For us it was Howard Donald in the 90s and is Nick closely followed by AJ here. From our vantage point in the front row this seemed a particularly successful attempt at recreating the world of pop fandom to a deafening soundtrack of screams. Relight My Fire? Positively scorching.