Review: The Band, Norwich Theatre Royal, could it be magic? I think it might well be
- Credit: Matt Crockett
It's one way to relight the fire for Take That fans, a musical mix-up of the band's greatest hits with a tale that celebrates the power of friendship.
The Band Norwich Theatre Royal
I first saw The Band in Manchester when the cast were reading from scripts, there was no scenery and no costumes (Take That were there, however, which kind of compensated for any lack of visuals). I loved it then, but the finished version is quite spectacular – it proves that Patience really does pay off.
Written by Tim Firth, The Band isn't a musical about Take That, it's a musical love letter to the band's fans who have stood by them since they were teenagers.
It follows five 16-year-old girls, Rachel, Debbie Claire, Zoe and Heather whose love for 'the band' transcends everything else – after bunking off school to see the boys in concert, tragedy befalls the group and forms the basis of act two, when we fast forward to when the girls are adults.
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The Band themselves, plucked from BBC talent show Let it Shine – Five to Five's Sario, Harry (whose full name is, brilliantly, Harry Fabulous Brown, and who was standing in for Yazdan), Curtis, Nick and AJ – are the glue that holds the show together (like a pop version of a Greek chorus), but it's the girls, later women, and their friendships that take centre stage.
As in real life, the boy band may feel very close and real, but what they provide is actually just the backing music to real life – but what backing music it is: say what you like about Take That, but they really did produce some blinders.
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Transporting audiences straight back to the 1990s, when receiving a text involved looking at Ceefax, when the publication day of Smash Hits was long-awaited and when buying an album involved going to a shop, it's sentimental, nostalgic, spectacular to look at (wait for the singing sculpture) AND you can sing along.
Katy Clayton as young Heather is fantastic, Alison Fitzjohn Shines as Claire, the sets are jaw-dropping and the audience is as much a part of the production as the cast and crew – Could it be Magic? I think it might very well be.
• The Band continues at Norwich Theatre Royal until February 17, £49.50-£8, 01603 630000, theatreroyalnorwich.co.uk
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