The Band, Edinburgh Playhouse, Review:
***** 5 Stars
“Calls to the heart of the memories in all of us”
In a production which has curiously understated publicity is a true 5 Star jewel of new musical theatre especially when it comes to shows that use the catalogue of perhaps the most famous boy bands to come out of the 90’s namely Take That. This is the second musical to feature the hits of Barlow et al, while “Never Forget” did achieve some success, “The Band” shines thanks to the brilliant book by Tim Firth and the simply stunning cast.
Telling the story of five girls and best friends Rachel (Rachel Lumberg), Claire (Alison Fitzjohn), Heather (Emily Joyce), Zoe (Jayne McKenna) whose teen age years were coloured by the music of the boy band so much so in 1992 as top of the pops blares from the tv the decided to set out to meet their idols but don’t quite reach their goal. Fast forward 25 year to today and these friends lives have all changed dealing with love, heartbreak, weight gain and broken dreams these mature women now find themselves back together again and decided to once again meet their idols.
Tim Firth’s brilliant script along with Take That’s lyrics takes us right inside the lives of these woman and the scars and triumphs that have shaped who they have become. It’s an emotionally honest and human look at life and the memories all of us look back on fondly and so often wish we could recapture. Bolstered by the Music of take that but never over doing the cheesiness it a special blending of story and music that moves the audience from laughter to tears and back again. This production is delivered by 5 incredible actresses who ooze talent and command the stage at every opportunity a true tour de force of acting prowess.
The show also features the winners of BBC’s Let it Shine, Aj, Curtis, Sario, Nick and Yazdan better known as 5 to 5 and play The Band of the shows title but the master stroke of directors Kim Gavin and Jack Ryder is that this band are never referred to as Take That and often appear as ghosts of the girls past or as statues in a fountain come to life or indeed the workers in the airport and airline it’s a creative touch of excellence.
The band features a brilliant and novel set design from Jon Bausor supported by a Video Design Luke Halls that will have you believing that a Plane took off from the stage of the Playhouse stage. With sharp lighting design by Patrick Woodroffe and poptastic sound design by Terry Jardine and Nick Ludster. The Band is new benchmark in touring theatre.
What sets this production apart is the focus on the story you can’t help but engage with it, it churns up emotions we all hold of the first time we heard a song or group, or those friends who shaped the teen age years and truly calls to the heart of the memories in all of us. As thousands of lights twinkle across the auditorium as a rallying call to “Never Forget” this production really could be the greatest show of our lives, so hurry and get those tickets as the tour takes a break after the Edinburgh run but worry not it will be back in September!
The Band, Edinburgh Playhouse, Runs until Saturday 14th July. For Tickets go to: https://www.atgtickets.com/shows/the-band/edinburgh-playhouse/