I'm still Tanya
OK, what am I talking about? This is a review of the Take That musical isn't it? Well, yes and no. By that, I mean that describing it as 'a Take That musical' doesn't really do it justice, whilst it uses the music of Britain's most successful boy band, it is actually a female-led story.
Think a cross between Mamma Mia, Shirley Valentine and Stand by Me and you get an idea the brilliance of the plot penned by Tim Firth.
This is a tale of growing up, one of celebrating friendship and never losing sight of your dreams. Within all of us there is still that feisty teenager ready to take on the world ahead of us, where our only real problems are whether we're home in time for Top of the Pops, who is on the cover of Smash Hits and, more importantly, whether we're going to marry them and it's while we're merrily enjoying this feel-good nostalgia trip that bang! Out of the blue tragedy strikes and changes the lives of our central characters forever.
The songs of our youth provide the soundtrack to our lives, forever evoking memories. Against a musical backdrop of Take That songs, the story tells of five 16-year-old friends in 1992 for whom 'the band' is everything. They themselves are a little bit Spice Girl-esq, the sporty one, the clever one...25 years later, the now 40-something women, try once more to fulfil their dream of meeting their heroes whilst dealing with the ghosts from their past.
There is also laugh out loud comedy, much coming from the dry humour of Andy Williams as Every Dave.
Co-produced by supergroup Take That, whilst the show is a must for their fans, you really don't have to be one to enjoy this fast- paced musical and In fact they're never actually mentioned. Rather than being a jukebox musical and crowbarring the songs in, the production incorporates them. Some move the story on, others have been creatively re-worked to fit into the plot. None seem out of place and it's also nice for some of the early classics, Do What You Like and Promises getting an airing. A touching bittersweet scene, featuring Back for Good, sees the women joined by the girls they once were, reflecting on their life. I defy you not to choke back a tear thinking what you'd say to the younger you.
The band themselves, Five to Five, were cast through the 2017 BBC prime time reality show Let it Shine. They weave in and out of show, and whilst undoubtedly talented, we learn little about them. They cleverly appear from the background, having an omnipresence like the fantasy figures they are. A magnificent set helps achieve this. The stunning production was created by the team behind Take That's live concerts and we swiftly transfer from scene to scene from aer0planes taking off to sculptures coming to life. If you've ever caught a Take That performance then the costumes and dance moved will look familiar too.
A relatively new production, it became the fastest selling musical in history when tickets went on sale, opening in September 2017 to ecstatic reviews. It could have been sentimental mush, but it's delivered with so much heart and so cleverly written with many multi layers that it avoids that pitfall. There are so many standout performances that its hard to pick out individuals. They all shine (no pun intended)
Producers should take note (yes, I'm talking to you Son of a Preacher Man). This is how to write a show. It's great now and I predict this musical offering has got a massive future.
Love T x
THE BAND will be produced by David Pugh & Dafydd Rogers and Gary Barlow, Howard Donald, Mark Owen, Robbie Williams.
Website – www.thebandmusical.com
Twitter - @TheBandMusical
Instagram - BandMusical
Facebook - /TheBandMusical
LOCAL LISTINGS INFORMATION:
Theatre Royal Nottingham
Tuesday 12 – Saturday 23 June 2018
Week 1: Tue–Thu evenings 7.30pm, Wed matinee 2pm, Fri 5.30pm & 9pm, Sat 2.30pm & 7.30pm
Week 2: Mon-Thu evenings 7.30pm, Fri 5.30pm & 9pm, Sat 2.30pm & 7.30pm
£19.50 - £49.50 plus discount for Members* and Groups www.trch.co.uk 0115 989 5555
*Theatre Royal & Royal Concert Hall Nottingham Royal Membership scheme offering ticket discounts, exclusive pre-sales, meet the cast nights and more www.trch.co.uk/membership