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The Band, Sheffield Lyceum
Graham Clark, Features Writer
L-R Jayne McKenna as Zoe, Rachel Lumberg as Rachel, Emily Joyce as Heather & Alison Fitzjohn as Claire, with Five To Five as The Band in The Band, credit Matt Crockett
I must admit, I had reservations about seeing the show, I was expecting another jukebox musical thinking it would all be about Take That. In reality this superb production is more about 5 female fans of the band, where we see the girls following the band in their youth and then they meet up again 25 years later and we see them now as middle aged women and what life has dealt them.

It is 1993 when the musical begins, Take That are number 1 with Pray and it is the age when Ceefax was your source of information rather than the Internet, Smash Hits was your favourite read and Top of the Pops was a must see on a Thursday night.

Typically the teenage girls are what you tend to get in a group of 5 friends: Rachel (Faye Christall) - the fat one, Heather (Katy Clayton) - the ringleader of the girls, Claire (Sarah Kate Howarth) - the sporty one, Zoe (Lauren Jacobs) - the studious one and Debbie (Rachelle Diedericks) - the easily led one.

Based in the north west of England the girls go to see Take That at the Apollo in Manchester only to miss their bus home and then the story unfolds.

L-R Rachelle Diedericks, Sarah Kate Howarth, Faye Christall, Lauren Jacobs & Katy Clayton in The Band, credit Matt Crockett
Fast forward to the present and the grown up Rachel (Rachel Lumberg) wins a competition to see Take That in concert in Prague so she decides to get in touch with her friends from 1993.

It has to be said that the producers have done a good job in profiling how the women look now as they have the same profile as many in the audience tonight.

The girls end up in police custody for damaging part of a statue in a fountain. I will let you guess which part they damage.

Rachel Lumberg as Rachel and Martin Miller as Jeff in The Band, credit Matt Crockett
The women sing too with superb harmonies and the group Five To Five are excellent as Take That and recreate the dances you remember from the videos of Relight My Fire and Pray. The scenes where they both sing together are some of the most memorable of the evening.

The boys though are always there, either in the background or at the forefront when performing the hits, but they never distract from the story of the women who try to re-discover themselves and how their life has changed over 25 years.

As the grown up versions of Claire (Alison FitzJohn), Heather (Emily Joyce) and Zoe (Jayne McKenna) look back and try to re-connect with each other it is at times sad, poignant and there are some classic one liners - all at the expense of men!

Also by Graham Clark...
Beauty And The Beast, Theatre Royal, Nottingham
Roy Wood Rock N Roll Band, Royal Hall, Harrogate
Slade To Visit Hull And Manchester
Brand New Heavies, Manchester Academy
The Charlatans, O2 Academy, Leeds
Special mention to Andy Williams who plays various parts from bus driver to roadie during the show and Martin Miller who plays Jeff, Rachel's husband, who you might have seen play Dave, the fat one from the Full Monty.

All the Take That songs you remember are there and in the words of the closing number performed, it is a show that I will Never Forget. There is not a dull moment and judging by all the smiling faces coming out of the theatre I was not alone in enjoying this uplifting musical.

A triumph that uses the wisdom of Tim Firth's writing and Gary Barlow's knack of writing a good melody. If you are not convinced have a little Patience because this is a show to make you shine.

Sheffield Lyceum until Saturday 14 October

Bradford Alhambra 17- 28 October

The Band, Sheffield Lyceum, 10th October 2017, 15:30 PM