A lifestyle blog all about Birmingham, UK.

Wednesday, 27 February 2019

REVIEW: The Band at Wolverhampton Grand Theatre



Growing up, I couldn't get enough of pop music. S Club, Boyzone, Westlife, Steps, B*Witched...I could go on. In my late teens, I became a closet pop fan. It just didn't seem cool anymore, so I only listened to the sickeningly sweet lyrics and upbeat feel-good music that pop music offers within the safety of my headphones. Thankfully, I gave up being cool a long time ago, and it led me into the arms of 5, now middle aged, men...Take That. 

I was born in 1994; the peak of Take That. So I was too young to enjoy their music, but when they arrived back onto the scene in 2006, I automatically understood the hype. I now listen to Take That on an almost daily basis, their 'old' and new stuff. It is feel good pop music, and that's what I need in my life. So I was over the moon when I got the invitation to review The Band, the 'Take That Musical' at the Wolverhampton Grand!

I assumed the musical would be the story of Take That, but instead it was one of the most heartwarming stories I have ever seen on stage. The story is based on five teenage girls, Rachel, Claire, Heather, Zoe and Debbie, who are obsessed with 'The Boys' from 'The Band'. They are 16, it's 1993 and their biggest worry is which of the boys from their favourite pop group they are going to marry. They are the best of friends, until a tragic loss happens within the group and just like so many childhood friendships, they grow apart and lose touch. 


That's until 25 years later, when Rachel, now in a long-term relationship with Jeff, enters a competition to see 'The Band' on their reunion tour in Prague. Instead of running away for a romantic weekend with Jeff, she gets back in touch with her childhood friends and they jet off for a weekend of fun, trouble and reminiscing. But, a lot can happen in 25 years, and they all realise that life turned out not as expected for everyone. This special weekend gives the girls the change to get their powerful bond back together, and all inspire each others future.
What is incredibly clever about this musical is that it follows two sets of girls; those who were once 16, and present day, giving us a huge amount of female talent on stage. The show features the music from Take That, but in fact, 'The Band' aren't the stars of this show. However, the five boys were incredibly talented and were the perfect boy band - charming, brilliant vocals, cheesy dance moves, what's not to love. From the moment the first pounding beats of 'Pray' blasted out into the audience, I knew this show would be something special. However, the songs aren't just thrown into the show, they are woven around particular story lines, which really helps bring the production together. 

The 'adult' versions of Rachel, Claire, Heather and Zoe are all fantastic. Claire, played by Alison Fitzjohn, has perfect comedic timing, and Rachel, played by Rachel Lumberg has the power to captivate the audience which every single one of her emotions, so much so that I often found myself having a little cry when she did. 

However, the stars of the show for me were the 'young' versions. They are just so likeable and it felt like the roles really were made for them. Rachel, played by Faye Christall, is so relatable, and Rachelle Diedericks totally made the role of Debbier her own and her sassy yet naive personality was so charming. Heather, played by Katy Clayton, was simply fantastic. She was absolutely hilarious and completely owned the stage whenever she was on it. She very much reminded me of a young Victoria Wood and I wouldn't be surprised if we saw big things from her in the future. 


The production's set was also very good, and the audience was taken from the North West of England to Prague, with so many fun and creative sets and scenes. Of course, the music was the biggest highlight of the show, with songs from Take That's whole catalogue of music for the audience to enjoy, including Shine, A Million Love Songs, Relight My Fire, Back for Good, Greatest Day and Rule the World. At the end, the whole audience were up on their feet for Never Forget, and yes OF COURSE we all did the actions!
The Band was such a feel-good, inspiring show. Yes, it was a little cheesy at times, but I love a bit of cheese every now and then. It was nostalgic and took me right back to my 90s childhood, and I had the best time. Shows that make me leave the theatre beaming, and with a real urge to break out into song and dance, are always the best in my eyes. It was also very emotional at times, and made me miss being 16 a stupid amount. I'll never be a teenager again, but with the help of shows like The Band, I can occasionally go back and remember what it was like to be young and in love with a boy band. 

The Band: 9/10

Please note: I was gifted the tickets to this show in return for a written review. 
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