…not just to the die-hard Take That fans.
I went back to see The Band for the second time last night. And I’ve already booked in at least three more viewings (Birmingham, Bristol and Milton Keynes, get ready for me). It is a roaring fire which leaves embers glowing inside you, and that fire is relit every time you see it. Yes, I did just create a really convoluted metaphor to make an awful pun. Apologies. But this show is something else. Never before have I laughed so much watching a show which has also brought me to tears, repeatedly.
In case you missed it, The Band is a musical written around the music of Take That. And if you don’t know who they are, where have you been for the past 28 years? But that doesn’t mean you have to be a massive fan of Take That to go and see it. In fact, watching the musical made me fall in love with Take That’s music.
The first time I saw the show, I tweeted about it…
…but after the second viewing, if I was confined to Tweets, I wouldn’t have said it all.
If you’ve got preconceptions, they’re probably misconceptions.
I decided to go and see The Band on a whim. I saw it on the front of a brochure for the Wales Millennium Centre and wanted to do something with a friend before he went back to uni after Christmas, 3000 miles away in the USA. It totally blew my mind. I wasn’t expecting much from it, I’ll be honest. But I was surprised in the best way.
Whilst it’s evidently got a lot of hype, being the fastest-selling theatre tour in history, I get the impression that the audiences aren’t flooded with students. It wouldn’t surprise me at all if I was the youngest member of the audience (without being accompanied by a parent!) both times I’ve seen it. And trying to find a student to go with me – in the Easter Holidays, with student loans due in soon, and the theatre not being the cheapest form of entertainment on offer – was a challenge. But it shouldn’t be. Because this musical is one of the most accessible I’ve ever seen. Sure, it helps if you understand the references to the nineties, but the message of the musical is as relevant to people my age as it is to anyone else. It’s a lesson, and a warning that the future can be a scary place, but it’s not all bad.
So why do I bring down the average age in the audience when I go and see it?
Obviously, its main appeal is to fans of Take That, some of whom will be able to relate directly to the plot. And therefore, lots of people my age think that it’s not something for them. Despite a lot of the music in the show being released around twenty years ago, the show’s reworking of them just makes them songs you’d expect to hear in a musical these days. (Pun count = 5. You are most welcome).
Sometimes, jukebox musicals are all-song, no story, and they rely far too heavily on the people who already loved the music to make the musical a success. However, this musical has one of the funniest, most surprising, most diverse plots of any I’ve seen. The first ten percent (ish. I didn’t take my stopwatch and calculator with me I’m afraid) is scene-setting. This is really important scene-setting, but the second time you watch it, you already know the scene so you don’t need it setting for you. Regardless, it’s needed for the majority of the audience, so I’ll just have a little patience [BOOM], because after the scene-setting comes twist after twist in the plot, and these twists are worked in really nicely, and the story takes you on an emotional roller-coaster ride and brings you to tears despite the fact you already know what’s going to happen.
And I’ll just leave this here for all those in the know, so we can all have a little cry together:
So the plot is substantial. The music – while cheesy – is great and the way it’s been worked around the dialogue is MAGICAL. The choreography is outstanding, but I suppose you’d expect that from a man with 15 Take That tours and TV appearances on his CV. The casting is spot on.
Why do I love it?
I’ll be honest, it’s hard to describe. There aren’t many musicals that I’ve been to which have you laughing every 2 minutes and then suddenly crying. But at the same time, the plot isn’t ridiculously unrealistic: the writing is SO CLEVER.
The pace and energy of the show is outstanding. You don’t get bored watching it, at all. And from the audience you can tell that the cast love each other to bits, and that comes across if you meet them at stage door…oh yeah, that happened:
And don’t forget that Alison Fitzjohn (Claire) walked out of the stage door, saw me, and knew my name because I said lovely things about the show on Twitter in January (and quote-tweeted myself…I am the king of self-promotion). And why did I say lovely things about the show? Because they’re all true (I do not do #fakenews…).
Personally, I cannot wait to see it again. I’m already making plans for Bristol, Birmingham and Milton Keynes. And when I spoke to him outside stage door, Curtis T Johns recommended trying to get to Edinburgh for one of the 3 performances, because the audience will be huge. And I’ve discovered that the night the show opens in Edinburgh is quite an important anniversary for me, and I can’t think of many better ways to celebrate…