Principal casting has been announced for the much-publicised Take That musical Never Forget, which premieres in Cardiff on 20 July 2007 prior to a UK tour concluding in Edinburgh on 22 September, prior to a planned West End transfer.

Written by Danny Brocklehurst (Shameless, Clocking Off), Never Forget is billed as a “brand new musical” about the members of the unlikeliest Take That tribute band. Starring as the five men who take to the stage as the popular 1990s pop group are a quintet of West End musical theatre veterans: Dean Chisnall (Ash), Craig Els (Jake), Stephane Anelli (Jose), Tim Driesen (Adrian), Eaton James (Harry). Further ensemble casting is still to be announced.

Stephane Anelli is best known for his role as Tony Manero in Saturday Night Fever on tour and in London. His other credits include Sinatra at the London Palladium and Fiddler on the Roof at Sheffield Crucible. Dean Chisnall left drama school to appear in The Woman in White, and has since appeared in Evita at the Adelphi. Craige Els is currently appearing in Spamalot at the Palace Theatre and has also appeared in Mamma Mia!. Belgian Tim Driesen, a semi-finalist in the Belgian version of Pop Idol, has been in Bat Boy, Mamma Mia! and Starlight Express, and Eaton James is currently appearing in Les Miserables at the Queen’s Theatre.

Shortly following the announcement of the musical in March (See News, 14 Mar 2007), Take That released a statement declaring that the musical “is being undertaken with neither their involvement nor their endorsement. They would wish their fans and the general public to know that this production is absolutely and 100 percent nothing to do with Take That" (See The Goss, 15 Mar 2007). Their unwillingness to give their backing to the musical was heightened when the band considered legal action against the producers later that month (See The Goss, 30 Mar 2007).

Formed in Manchester, in the first half of the Nineties, Take That dominated the UK pop charts with its dance tunes and soulful ballads, selling 15 million records between 1990 and their split in 1996. After a TV documentary in 2005 and the release of a greatest hits album, original band members Gary Barlow, Jason Orange, Mark Owen and Howard Donald (Robbie Williams being the one exception) reunited for last summer’s Ultimate Tour. The tour was first scheduled for 11 stops in the UK and Ireland, but after the initial dates sold out within half-an-hour of going on sale, extra dates – in stadiums – were added. The band released its first studio album in more than a decade - Beautiful World - in November 2006, and their single, "Shine", topped the charts, going straight to Number One when it was released in February.

Never Forget is directed by Ed Curtis and choreographed by Karen Bruce, with Mike Dixon as musical supervisor. The set designer will be by Bob Bailey, with costumes by Christopher Woods and a lighting design by James Whiteside. No venue or dates have yet been confirmed for the show’s London transfer.

- by Jake Brunger