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  • Preview by John Murray

The Band are in town...

Rarely do we get to see a show prior to the West End as the provinces get a chance to view the tour even before the broadsheet and trade reviews kick in. Well all this week at the Edinburgh Playhouse a new musical by Tim Firth featuring the music of Take That called The Band takes to the stage having just played Glasgow last week. Next week the whole set, cast and crew are off to Southend as they weave their way towards a planned 50 performances in time for Christmas. Already it is the fastest selling musical theatre tour show of all time and features the cast who won the BBC series Let It Shine and I imagined it would be the story of Take That. Instead we meet 5 teen girls who reunite after 25 years as they try to meet the boy band of their dreams. Along the way and creatively choreographed we get the great Take That songbook and a dream for any theatre producer. So Tim Firth along with the full blessing of the band have assembled an unparalleled soundtrack as the basis of their story.

The boys in The Band are top class and having been through such an intense and public audition they are the best of the best. Athletic and versatile in vocal they instantly make an impact on stage. AJ, Nick, Curtis, Yazdan and Sario take most of the vocals but the acting and further vocals are managed by the four ladies all of whom received a deserved standing ovation. The adult ladies headed by Rachel Lumberg and Alison Fitzjohn had the audience in tears with laughter while Emily Joyce and Jayne McKenna supported in equal measure. Comic but tearful at times too with all strength to the story. Opening with Ceefax pages (remember them) and the nostalgia of what was Top Of The Pops the 5 young girls set the story off when the Band were fresh and current. We follow their stories and fast forward 25 years to their reunion and all the catch up that ensues along with some insights and surprises I won’t reveal here.

Expertly written and directed the set was truly amazing and swiftly moved with precision, the lighting and effects were the best I’ve seen on a stage from any touring musical. There are many highlights but special mention to the Could It Be Magic routine, Relight My Fire with full ensemble and Shine which had everyone on their feet.

Edinburgh Playhouse till July 14

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