DramaMusicalReviewSouth West

The Band – Bristol Hippodrome

Writer: Tim Firth

Music: Take That

Lyrics: Take That/David Pugh

Director: Kim Gavin & Jack Ryder

Reviewer: Francesca Parker

Could it be magic? Well, judging by the audience’s reactions, the standing ovation, and the fact that it has become the fastest selling UK musical tour, it absolutely is! In association with Tim Firth and David Pugh, Take That have created a musical that rivals, if not surpasses, any other in its sub-category of theatre. Arguably, The Spice Girls’, Viva-Forever! and even Abba’s, Mamma Mia! pale into insignificance when compared to The Band.

This production explores and exhibits the ever-changing relationship of five friends; coincidentally, all happen to be fanatical fans of the aforementioned boy band. The poignant twists and turns that occur in their lives, the highs and lows they experience are ultimately, at least in one way for the majority of the audience, relatable. Following the success and reception of his previous creations (Calendar Girls and The Full Monty) Tim Firth’s approach to is subtle, realistic and makes for a heart-warming performance.

Undeniably, the set is astounding. Jon Bausor’s visual masterpiece helps to magnify the cast who may, if less cleverly engineered, be dwarfed by the enormity of the stage. By focussing the audiences’ attention on the crucial interactions, occurring when overcomplicated designs or gimmicky props take the limelight, we become increasingly attached to the characters individually. Similarly, the show’s lighting is on point; Woodroffe’s dramatic contrast between light and shade imitates the rollercoaster of emotions the audience feels.

Although the majority of the songs are familiar and the band playing them is exceptionally good, the vocal performances are somewhat inconsistent. Rachelle Diedericks as the young Debbie, and Sarah Kate Howarth as the young Claire are enchanting. However, given that the boy band were selected by a rigorous BBC talent search, the male vocals were a little weaker than expected. That said, had the plot’s focus been on their rise to stardom, and there had been more full-length renditions of Take That’s greatest hits, The Band would be much less successful.

It doesn’t Only Take a Minute to fall in love with the production; it takes marginally longer than a song. But, for even the most loathing listeners of ninety’s pop to prevent their feet from tapping to the familiar sound of a bygone decade, is almost impossible. The amalgamation of old and new songs, and the fact that they have not included (for inclusions sake) each and every Take That classic, makes it all the more enjoyable. For those who were teenagers in this decade, this production comes highly recommended. Undoubtedly, you will leave wearing a smile (and possibly a whistle, a tour t-shirt or maybe even some glow-sticks).

Runs until Saturday 28 April | Image: Matt Crockett

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The Yorkshire & North East team is under the editorship of Jacob Bush. The Reviews Hub was set up in 2007. Our mission is to provide the most in-depth, nationwide arts coverage online.

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