The Band, Edinburgh Playhouse, Review

Submitted by Erin Roche on Wed, 11 Jul '18 1.21pm
Rating (out of 5)
Show details
Ambassador Theatre Group
Tim Firth (writer), Take That (music), Jon Bausor (designer), Kim Gavin (choreography), Patrick Woodroffe (lighting designer), Luke Halls (video designer), Terry Jardine and Nick Lidster for Autograph (sound designer), Steve Parry (orchestrations), Marc Frankum (casting), Emma Holoway (general manager), Jonathan Wild and Tim Clark (associate producers), Kim Gavin and Jack Ryder (direction), Ryan Carline (musical consultant), Simon Greiff (resident director), Adrian Gas (assistant choreographer), Leon Downing (hair designer), Kate West (production manager), Lydia Hardiman (costume supervisor), Marcus Hall Props (props supervisor), Mark Vince (company manager), Freddie Harris (stage manager), Jackie Ellis (deputy stage manager), Alice Johnston (assistant stage manager/book cover), Jodie Day (assistant stage manager), Luke Roberts (assistant stage manager), Mark Karrie (sound no 1), Jessica Holmes (sound no 2), Casper Ikeda (sound no 3), Beky Parry (chief LX), Duncan Grieve (LX no 2), Stuart Lord (LX no 3), Kirsty Blades (wardrobe mistress), Connie McClean (wardrobe assistant)
Rachel Lumberg (Rachel), Alison Fitzjohn (Claire), Emily Joyce (Heather), Jayne McKenna (Zoe), AJ Bentley, Nick Carsberg, Curtis T Johns, Yazdan Qafouri, and Sario Solomon (The Band), Faye Christall (Rachel), Katy Clayton (Heather), Rachelle Diedericks (Debbie), Sarah Kate Howarth (Claire), Lauren Jacobs (Zoe), Martin Miller (Jeff), Andy Williams (Every Dave), Maddy Banks (understudy), Claudia Bradley (understudy), Harry Brown (understudy), Jamie Corner (understudy), Claire Eden (understudy), Michael Geary (understudy), Catherine Higgins (understudy), John Donovan (musical director/keyboard), Richard Beesley (saxophone/keyboard 2), Tim Sandiford (guitar/acoustic guitar), Stu Roberts (drums), John McKenzie (bass)
Presented by David Pugh, Dafydd Rogers, Gary Barlow, Howard Donald, Mark Owen, and Robbie Williams
Running time

The Band is an absolute delight. It does for Take That what Mamma Mia does for Abba. In this format, however, we see the musical open on 5 tween girls in 1992 at their peak boyband devotion-- locker shrines, singing into a hairbrush, learning dances recorded from their favourite videos, the works. At first glance, The Band seems quite bubblegum, but, as we see the story unfold into the reunion of the girls 25 years later, it is clear that this is a story about love, loss, and growing up and accepting yourself.

Of course the songs from Take That take a featured role, but the real stars of this piece are the four adult women who play the tween girls all grown up. The flashbacks between both time periods are seamless and really serve for the audience to connect with the characters. The power of nostalgia is ever present, not only in the characters, but in the set-- a large installation of photograph outlines upon which are no shortage of visual spectacles from fire tricks to fog machines to projections-- fittingly, everything a pop concert should feature.

The Band of the show, the boys of Take That, act as a sort of Greek chorus throughout the entire musical, visually representing that these songs are the soundtrack to these women’s lives. Looking around at the smiles during the interval, there’s no doubt that the audience feels the same connection to this music.

Peppered with vibes of the films Shirley Valentine and Now and Then , this musical The Band will appeal to every generation, from those that grew up with The Four Seasons, to Take That, to One Direction. It is timeless, surprisingly emotional and just a whole a lot of fun. Like the musical and the music of Take That promotes, “This is the life we’ve been given, let it shine.”