|*We received tickets in exchange for review.|
Last night I visited my younger self as the cast of The Band took
to the stage at Wales Millennium Centre. I was thrown back into a
life I can still recall at the sound of a particular song; voices and
faces of my former school friends skipping through my mind and this
warmth in my heart as I think about how much I love them still.
The Band follows the story of five teenage girls set against a
backdrop of Take That music, music that flows through their daily
lives and, when they’re older, takes them back to a time they’ll
never truly forget. 25 years on and they’ve drifted apart, lived
lives they never really expected to, but when they meet again they
realise their bond has never truly broken.
Having (purposely) not read too much into the show, I really
didn’t know what to expect when the lights went down last night. I
only wish I had prepared myself for the heartache and tears. The
story follows five young girls on the verge of their adult lives, and
there is no doubt about it that Tim Firth has written this story from
I cannot tell you how amazing the writing is for this production.
From the dialogue to the clever handling of song and dialogue
intertwined, The Band is faultless. As I watched, part of me wanted
the story to be in book form, so I could dip into it any time I like,
forever immortalising the beautiful characters presented on stage.
The girls are presented by an outstanding set of young talented
females, with Faye Christall as Rachel, the central character of the
story. She’s joined by Katy Clayton as Heather, Sarah Kate Howarth as
Claire, Lauren Jacobs as Zoe, and my absolute favourite performer of
the night, Rachelle Diedricks as Debbie. They all performed with such
passion, and there was a true sense of genuine friendship between
them. Rachelle Diedricks was outstanding as Debbie, her stage
presence and voice were faultless and I, quite simply, adored her.
As they performed and interacted (as only teenagers do!) I was
thrown back in time to my own teenage years. A time when I met my
lifelong school friends, those friends who danced and sang along to
cheesy 90’s pop songs with me, those friends who shared their
make-up, clothes and secrets with me, those friends who picked me up
when I was down (and still do!). I sat in the theatre with tears
streaming down my face and during the interval I messaged a couple of
them, to tell them I loved them. Yes, this is what The Band does to
you. You relate to the characters, to the life we see as mundane or
lacking in some way, and then you realise how lucky you are. How
lucky you are to have had those special moments with people who truly
understand you, warts and all. How lucky you are to be able to still
hold them tight…
The second half of the story involves the adult versions of these
beautiful women. Rachel Lumberg is cast as adult Rachel, and boy does
she follow on from the wonderful Faye Christall with a sweet and
sentimental version of the teen. Alison Fitzjohn takes on the role of
Claire, Emily Joyce performs as Heather and Jayne McKenna as Zoe. All
women transition from teen to adult seamlessly in terms of character,
yet their hopes and dreams of 25 years ago haven’t necessarily
materialised, not in a literal way anyway. This transition was
outstanding, and it once again reminded me of my own life and the
lives of my friends.
When it comes to Take That and the music of their (and mine, and
probably your…) youth, Five to Five are outstanding. They
constantly appeared in weird, wonderful and inventive ways upon the
stage. From statues to lockers, the clever set and stage design added
an extra layer to this show, and Take Five handled it all with
professional ease. Five to Five is made up of AJ Bentley, Curtis T
Johns, Sario Solomon, Nick Carsberg (we saw Harry Brown in his place
last night) and Yazdan Qafouri, and they do not disappoint. Warren is
still telling me how much he adored their harmonies! They were
completely seamless alongside the rest of the cast, moving and
performing in harmony with the story, it was so beautiful to see!
I can’t fail to mention the amazing male characters within the
show, Jeff (Martin Miller) and Every Dave (Andy Williams) who offered
light relief and quick-witted moments during the performance. I
adored their dialogue and quirky performances, and I have to say I
absolutely adored the balloon scene, it totally broke my heart.
Martin Miller was amazing as sweet, kind and geeky Jeff, and his
relationship with Rachel was very realistic and incredibly adorable.
Andy Williams offered a lot more in the way of humour in his role as
Every Dave, from a bus driver to a police officer, he offered comic
relief in between the more emotional scenes.
I literally have nothing negative to say about this performance,
it truly has it all and I’m not sure I saw a dry eye in the theatre.
You will connect with the characters, relate to their stories and
have the chance to sing along to some of Take That’s most awesome
hits. I adore the fact that the story isn’t about Take That, but the
lives of real people in the real world with a connection to the music
that featured in the soundtrack of their lives. The stage, set and costumes are unbelieveable and the cast work perfectly between scenes to move the story along.
The Band is a story of hopes, dreams and all that’s in between.
It’s a stark reminder of how short life is, but also a reminder that
we already have the most important thing: each other… and we’ve had it
Disclosure: I received tickets in exchange for review. All
opinions are 100% honest and my own.