Review: The Band @ Opera House, Manchester

A genuine feast for the eyes, ears and soul, The Band is successfully taking theatre-goers on a rollercoaster journey of feel good emotions.

Walking through the doors of Manchester’s Opera House and into the auditorium, anticipation levels are high on the official opening night of The Band. But the question on everybody’s mind is: can this already record-breaking musical live up to expectations?

Tim Firth’s epic show takes you on a trip through the nineties, all beautifully soundtracked to Take That’s classics, energetically performed by Five to Five, the boy band who were crowned winners of BBC’s hit talent show Let It Shine.

The five lads, who are by no means the protagonists of the story, feel very much like the devil on your shoulder throughout the entire duration of the show – constantly teasing the audience with their flawless vocals and dance moves, turning up when you least expect them to.

Performances of Take That’s most acclaimed hits are beautifully interwoven into the story of five teenage girls as they transition through life from band-obsessed teenagers growing up in the 90s, to current-day women with real responsibilities and woes.

TALENT: Five to Five won BBC’s Let It Shine

The production opens with the brilliant 16-year old Rachel (Faye Christall), describing her love of the band to the audience, whilst her modern-day self (Rachel Lumberg) watches on.

Within moments of the opening act, the teenager’s obsession for the band climbs out of her mind and onto the stage, as the boys start popping out from every corner of her room as she sings into her hairbrush, demonstrating a reality familiar to many girls who grew up with a favourite band.

The storyline springs into action by following Rachel and her best buddies who are thick as thieves, until one night tragedy strikes when the group are returning from seeing Take That live in Manchester, ultimately resulting in the untimely ending of their friendships.

A quick fast-forward 25 year and it’s here when the musical really hits its stride as the clique reform their friendship.

Much like Take That’s real-life reunion in 2005, when the girls meet for the first time in years – all grown up and with their own lives – they start to realise just how much life has changed.

EMOTION: The show will make you laugh and cry

The scenes are simply captivating as the group of women rediscoverer their long lost friendships and learn about the struggles each other has faced over the past two and a half decades.

The scenes during Act Two are visually some of the best in the show, with incredibly designed sets, moving moments and amazing chorography throughout.

A Million Love Songs Later and it’s time for a conclusion that makes theatre-goers both laugh and cry.  

Audience members on the night were in for a treat when the real Take That appeared on stage after the show finale, with a guest appearance from Lulu who joined the boys for a rendition of their classic hit Relight my Fire.

SUCCESS: The production smashes all expectations 

Musical theatre – especially the kind that revolves around the hits of world famous bands – has received its fair share of criticism in recent years, but The Band looks sure to change preconceptions.

With Take That acting as co-producers on the show, it’s easy to see that the vision was carefully created with passion and pride, resulting in an incredible pairing of pop and plot.

It’s fair to say that this performance does not ride on the coattails of Take That’s greatest hits, the story is a standalone success with the music merely enhancing what is already an incredible piece of theatre.

To answer the question set out at the start of this review, the answer is yes, The Band does far more than live up to expectations – it does nothing less than supersede them! 

*The Band is playing at Opera House, Manchester until Saturday, September 30. You can buy tickets HERE.

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