The musical centres on the members of the unlikeliest Take That tribute band and follows the rollercoaster journey of young Gary Barlow-like hero Ash (Dean Chisnall) and his mates (Craige Els, Stephane Anelli, Tim Driesen and Eaton James) in the pursuit of their dreams. Along the way, each of them discovers that pretending to be someone else can sometimes help you find out who you really are.
Never Forget includes Take That chart-toppers such as “Relight My Fire”, “Pray”, “Back for Good”, “Babe” and the title number. The Take Thatters are joined in the 28-strong cast by Sophia Ragavelas, Joanne Farrell, Teddy Kempner and Marilyn Cutts, as well as 20 members of the Never Forget children’s choir who accompany them in the finale.
Never Forget has an original book written by TV’s Danny Brocklehurst (Shameless, Clocking Off), Guy Jones and Ed Curtis, who also directs. The production is designed by Christopher Woods and choreographed by Karen Bruce, with Mike Dixon as musical supervisor. It’s produced by Tristan Baker, Bronia Buchanan and Charlie Parsons in association with Jason Haigh-Ellery.
High art, this isn’t, as all of the first night critics agreed. Nevertheless, most appeared happy to submit to the show’s silliness and accept it for what it aims to be – “kitsch”, “lively”, “funny” and knowingly “cheesy”. In the spectrum of compilation musicals, the consensus is that Never Forget is located closer to Mamma Mia! than the We Will Rock You end, in terms of critical success. And more than one critic predicted it would be a box-office hit, especially with hen parties and others who’d already seen Dirty Dancing. There was particular praise for Karen Bruce’s choreography and a nifty “water animation” effect.
- by Terri Paddock