Mandy Martinez, WhatsOnStage
"There's nothing much more to this jukebox musical than you'd expect from such a well-trodden genre, other than being able to marvel at the remarkable capacity Take That had to knock out some of the most honeyed, heart-breaking, uplifting tunes of the pop era. Their, frankly, classical quality and sheer exuberance manages to transport a pretty pedestrian tale to a sweet spot.
"The (all-male) creative team make a good fist of telling the girls' story with some nifty lines from Tim Firth (Calendar Girls) to keep us amused, while the cast who play the young and older versions of the besotted fans capture the essence of teen- and middle-age beautifully.
"If you can get past the hackneyed plot and the sporadic tracts of faintly screechy chit chat, feel free to grab the tunes by the horns and have a blast. I'll be 50 next year. For a while last night, I felt 25 again."
Peter Robinson, The Guardian
"When plot and pop do align, it's remarkable. "Back for Good" is performed as a duet between 90s kids and their fully grown 2017 selves, with teenagers apologising for whatever they said and did, and adults telling their younger selves that they want them back.
"Top of the Pops is referenced several times, while mention of Smash Hits prompts a small cheer from the audience, but pleasingly The Band swerves the temptation to wallow in all-out nostalgia, ending with several smart callbacks and the tying together of apparently peripheral plot points, and the sense that actually the next 25 years might be all right too. And more than being a love letter to a particular pop era, The Band really feels like a thank you letter to fans. "We were girls of 16," one character reminisces in act two. "We were fantastic. And we still are." "
Dominic Cavendish, The Telegraph
"There are certainly flashes of wit, and the closing sections of the evening do everything they can to tug at the heartstrings, but neither in terms of uproarious comedy nor pained emotion are we in the same realm as Mamma Mia!. Irrespective of the blessings bestowed on the project by the "boys" themselves, the focus on "the girls" (which The Band might easily be called, had Firth not just used that title for his Calendar Girls spin-off) short-changes their achievements. "
Mark Shenton, The Stage
"The Band puts the dramatic spotlight not on the boys, but on the female characters. As embodied by the splendid quartet of Rachel Lumberg, Alison Fitzjohn, Emily Joyce and Jayne McKenna, they are fierce, funny and wonderful. There are times when this feels like a pop music version of Follies, as the friends look back on who they once were. It's not as profound as the Sondheim musical, but the show smartly maps the songs of their youth on to the people they are now."
Dan Wootton, The Sun
"There truly are some heart-wrenching moments, particularly from the girls in their more senior years - most notably the amazing Alison Fitzjohn - who overcomes personal obstacles and a shared tragedy to meet up once again.
"One thing you can never forget with Take That (no pun intended) is that their songs truly stand the test of time. Yes, they are brilliant pop hits, but they will sound just at home on the stage."
The Band runs at Manchester Opera House until 30 September before embarking on a UK tour.
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