The Mayflower Southampton – until 11 November. Reviewed by Jo Gordon
Written by Tim Firth and co produced by David Pugh, Dafydd Rogers, Gary Barlow, Howard Donald, Mark Owen and Robbie Williams – The Band is the newest jukebox musical to hit the stage. Gary’s TV talent show, Let it Shine, found the perfect line up of boys to play the part of the productions Boy Band Five to Five ( A J Bentley, Yazdan Qafouri, Curtis T Johns, Sario Solomon and Nick Carsberg) who perfectly fit the bill.
With the opening scenes set in the early nineties, a time where Top of the Pops was king, you couldn’t see your bedroom walls for posters from Smash Hits Magazine (much to my dads disgust!) and you taped the hits off the radio, we follow a group of five friends who share a love for the same band and win a competition to see them.
Rachel (Faye Christall), Heather (Katy Clayton), Debbie (Rachelle Diedericks), Claire (Sarah Howarth) and Zoe (Lauren Jacobs) have the night of their life and on the way home stop to remember that point in time and declare what they hope their future lives to be, however tragedy strikes and the group of friends drift apart and go their separate ways.
Fast forward 25 years and a fortysomething Rachel wins a competition to see the Five to Five comeback tour (sound familiar?). Despite her partners initial excitement of a trip to Prague, “Beer capital of the world” she explains to Jeff (Martin Miller) that she had contacted the girls as she feels its the perfect chance of a reunion, they agree and hilarity ensues! Their friendship comes back together, they talk about their current lives and how different it turned out to what they had dreamed, the affect of not having each other after they drifted apart, and decide on their futures now they are back in the fold. All of this while the boys are in the background singing what is essentially the theme tune to their lives, with a hit from Take That for every scenario. The set is wonderful, from that 90’s bedroom right through to aeroplanes and the most ingenious fountain I have ever witnessed! Keep an eye out for the comedic “Dave” (Andy Williams) as he is every bus driver, workman and roadie we have ever come across.
Being a fortysomething woman now, it was set bang on target for my own life and mirrored experiences I had back then and now. I laughed, I sang and I sobbed as I saw my 16 year old, Dr Marten wearing, overconfident self on that stage and thought of the dreams I’d had back then and my life and friendships now. You will no doubt do the same!