Let’s just get one thing straight: if you grew up in the 90s and loved Take That, then this is the closest you’ll ever get to time travelling back and re-living your teenage years. The attention to detail, from the opening credits taken from actual Top of the Pops footage to wardrobe and props makes The Band an epic throwback and slick production from start to finish.
Yes, if you used to eat Corn Pops for breakfast, wear Kangol Hats back to front and collected dummy necklaces that were meant to be worn at raves but actually you just wore them as an 11-year old after school (just me?), then you’ll totally relate to the stage set and styling.
Written by Tim Firth, The Band features pretty much every Take That song in existence, as performed by talented boy band Five to Five, winners of Gary Barlow’s 2017 ‘Let it Shine’ talent show. The boys are on stage throughout, in various guises and outfits – including some bizarre fetish Spartan costume for one song, but we’ll let that slide – and sing old and new Take That songs, plus perform some classic boyband dance moves that were really considered cool back then.
But although the music is obviously at the heart of this production, it’s really the story that takes centre stage. Set in the North of England (cue some predictable stereotyping about it being grim up here, living next door to the Co-Op etc), The Band follows five teenage girlfriends obsessed with Take That, and their adult lives 25 years later.
Linking the music to a story of friendship, life and love that everyone can relate to in some way, is a pretty fail-safe way to create a new found love of Gary Barlow’s songwriting and a musical that genuinely appeals to a mass audience. There are some truly touching moments and great performances, particularly by the younger cast playing out the teenage versions of the 5 main characters.
Photography by Matt Crockett.