"This is no ordinary boy band, this is a M&S boy band ..."
In February 1996 boy-band extraordinaire Take That announced they were splitting up. Girls across the world wept and wailed and dialled the specially set up Help Lines.
Fast-forward ten years and the lads got back together, hit the road on a reunion tour and climbed back to the top of the charts with ‘Patience’.
It is any wonder, then, that some savvy theatre producers saw a ‘Mamma Mia’ shaped opportunity and soon came up with Never Forget, a jukebox musical crammed with the band’s best loved hits.
It took about as long for me to realise that this was going to be brash, broad, barnstorming fun as it did for ex-Brookside actor Philip Olivier to get his pecs out (namely, no time at all).
Who needs a storyline when the next song might be ‘Relight My Fire’ (a personal favourite)? But, in a nod to one of the writers being BAFTA winning Danny ‘Shameless & Clocking Off’ Brocklehurst I should say there is a plot off which the songs are hung.
Ash’s mam Babs has the bailiffs knocking on the door. To raise the money to save her pub, Ash’s best mate Jake suggests they attend auditions for a Take That tribute act. As luck would have it, there’s a Tribute Act Competition looming – the prize being cold, hard cash.
Ash (Mark Willshire) is hired as Gary and Jake (Adam C Booth) as Robbie.
They are joined by geeky banker Adrian (Tom Bradley), nice-but-dim stripper Harry (Olivier) and wide-eyed Spaniard Jose (Scott Garnham) as Mark, Howard and Jason respectively.
Why am I laying it out for you like that? Because you may need to keep reminding yourselves who is who as this is a tribute act which apparently requires its members to neither look like nor sound like their famous counterparts.
Could It Be Magic? You Pray it will be. And now that the real Take That are Back For Good (a matter amusingly dealt with), It Only Takes A Minute to … ok, ok, I’ll stop with the tenuous song titles.
Never Forget delivers exactly what you want and expect. The well-known, much-loved songs come thick and fast, performed by a talented company. It boasts a pretty darn impressive rain curtain AND there is even a choir of children.
By the energetic finale the audience didn’t need much encouragement to get up on their feet and join in.
Funny, endearing and dusted with a dose of the it’s-so-bad-it’s-genius factor, this is a great night out that puts a smile on your face and makes you rush home to dig out The Ultimate Collection greatest hits CD.