I can vividly remember seeing a Take That tribute band on a lads’ holiday in Benidorm a good few years ago. The lead singer was several waist sizes larger than Gary Barlow and could only manage to hit around 40% of the notes. The Band, from Tim Firth, is certainly a few steps up from that particular act, but whether it reaches the full potential of a musical will, very much, be a matter of opinion.
While this ‘new musical’ doesn’t feature any new music, or indeed a particularly inventive storyline, it is packed with the music of Take That, although it’s important to note it is not the story of the boyband phenomenon. Instead a group referred to as ‘The Band’, perhaps in an attempt to solidify the collective experience, perform around the main plot.
It’s a plot that could easily have been left out completely. A group of girls love a boyband, grow up to find their lives are not what they expected them to be, and are reunited by their love of ‘The Band’. While the premise sounds promising the actual plot is filled with cliché and predictability, even worse, this group of women are portrayed as miserable and downtrodden, it’s as if anyone born outside the M25 can only expect a meagre existence. The characters feel like they’ve been lifted straight from a 1960’s episode of Coronation Street, albeit with some kind of modern twist, and it feels totally incongruous with the strong, modern women of the north today.
Oh yes, it’s heart-warming and uplifting, and all those other things you would expect, but it does feel that list came first and some kind of story written to hit the right criteria. There isn’t time to explore the characters deeply enough, and you never feel like you’ve actually connected with any of them on more than a superficial level. Just as it looks like you might get somewhere, everything stops for another Take That hit.