I’ll admit straight off, I’m not a Take That fan. Okay, I don’t dislike them. They seem nice guys and the music isn’t offensive. However, they wouldn’t be on my playlist and I could just about name five songs.

The Band – Birmingham Hippodrome 7 May 2018

The Band focuses on a group of 16-year-old girls who steal away in the night to see the famous, but unnamed band in the show. A series of soul-searching moments ends with them vowing to never lose touch. Of course, things never work out that way and an incident I won’t reveal a spoiler of, causes them to go their separate ways. Only 25 years later do they reunite, coinciding with the boybands reunion in Prague.

Now, both Queen and Abba have sounds which transformed brilliantly to the stage, therefore, would the biggest boyband of the 90s do likewise? Only partly, in my opinion.

Don’t get me wrong. I enjoyed the show. Tim Firth’s script is well-written and funny. Add to that, all the characters were brought to life in brilliant fashion by a superb cast.

And then the band began to sing, which is where the show falls flat. The lads in the band were chosen from TV talent show, Let it Shine and cloned from every generic boyband of the last quarter of a century. Decent enough singers, but nothing special and they were given too much exposure which took attention from the main characters in the show. They needed to be further in the background and I found myself switching off every time they took centre stage. The Band weren’t the stars, more of a Greek Chorus and should have been used so. If you want to see a boyband perform, go see a boyband. I watch an awful lot of musical theatre and unfortunately, many songs didn’t transform well to stage. In fact, the only ones which did wow me were those sung by the women (in both young and older incarnations).

The Band wasn’t about the pop band, rather the band of friendship between our main characters. Favourite of these for me was the introverted Zoe (Played by Jayne McKenna {grown up} and Lauren Jacobs {younger}) who came to life once when out of the comfort zone. I can relate to that. I also had a soft spot for Every Dave, a man portrayed superbly by Andy Williams who turned up in many situations with no pretence at all to be a different person.

In addition to Zoe and Every Dave, Rachel was played by Rachel Lumberg and Faye Christall. Claire – Alison Fitzjohn and Sarah Kate Howarth. Heather – Claudia Bradley and Katy Clayton. Debbie – Rachelle Diedricks. And finally, Jeff – Martin Miller.

Top numbers for me were: Rule the World, Shine, Greatest Day and Relight my Fire. But by far the best was the poignant Back for Good. Beautiful from start to finish.

The Band on the night were: A J Bently, Nick Carsberg, Yazdan Qafouri, Sario Solomon and Harry Brown. The show was directed by Kim Gavin and Jack Ryder.

At the end, we had a rousing finale in which most of the audience rose to join in, including me. And why not. It’s a great feat to perform and the cast deserved their moment.

The Band – Birmingham Hippodrome 7 May 2018

Cheers.

Antony N Britt

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