Tag Archives: Jayne McKenna

The Band
★★★★

Theatre Royal Haymarket

The Band

The Band

Theatre Royal Haymarket & UK Tour

Reviewed – 5th December 2018

★★★★

“tries to pack in a some messages along the way, some of these work and add a touch of sentiment to the show, but others feel a little unnecessary”

 


OK, from the start let’s make it clear – this is not, definitely not, a Take That musical. Set in Manchester, featuring five lads in a hugely successful boyband and blasting out the back catalogue of aforementioned supergroup, we’re clear from the onset … this is not, repeat not, a Take That Musical.

As we walk into the auditorium, we’re transported back to 1993 with a giant screen on stage rolling through the pages of Ceefax – a little lost on some of the younger audience members, but to us of a certain age, pure nostalgia. As the show starts we’re in what could be any teenaged girl’s bedroom of the time, with walls adorned with Smash Hits posters. We meet young Rachel (Faye Christall) who brings us up to speed about how she, and her mates Heather (Clayton), Debbie (Rachelle Diedricks), Claire (Sarah Kate Howarth) and Zoe (Lauren Jacobs) are in love with a certain boyband. Skip forward twenty five years and Rachel (Rachel Lumberg) wins a competition to see her beloved pop heroes in Prague. Having drifted apart from the others, she tracks them down and invites Heather (Emily Joyce), Zoe (Jayne McKenna) and Claire (Alison Fitzjohn) to see their childhood idols.

Throughout the plot opportunities are created to shoehorn in some of Take That’s biggest hits, with scenes that cleverly switch from us following the girls/women to us being in the audience of a concert. Most people will know that the lads in the band (A. J. Bentley, Yazdan Qafouri, Nick Carsberg, Curtis T Johns and Sario Soloman) were picked in the BBC contest ‘Let it Shine’. In the year and a half since, they have become a close knit five piece and the show (touring since September last year) has become the fastest selling musical theatre tour of all time.

However, Take That are masters of their game, from lad band to dad band, they have always been talented showmen who excel at everything they do so it’s hard not to compare the boys in The Band with Howard, Jason, Robbie, Gary and Mark; therein lies a problem – however hard they work, they are never going to compete either vocally or performance wise. Don’t get me wrong, AJ, Nick, Curtis, Sario and Yazdan are talented young performers, but there were a few duff notes and the choreography at times wasn’t quite as polished in places as it should have been for a West End stage.

The set (Jon Bausor) was fun with a few nice surprises. However, it did look a little like it was created just to be easily toured with. There were some clever use of video projection (Luke Halls) to flesh out scenes but this was inconsistent as for every outstanding part there was one which was rather unexciting.

The Band tries to pack in a some messages along the way, some of these work and add a touch of sentiment to the show, but others feel a little unnecessary. There are some parts which may raise a few eyebrows in this day and age – dodgy Polish accents and fat jokes to name a couple. This isn’t outstanding musical theatre and doesn’t deliver anything new. However, if you take it at face value, it is a fantastic, fun experience and certainly one you’ll Never Forget.

 

Reviewed by thespyinthestalls

Photography by Matt Crockett

 


The Band

Theatre Royal Haymarket until 12th January then continues UK tour

 

Previously reviewed at this venue:
The Rat Pack – Live From Las Vegas | ★★★½ | January 2018
Broken Wings | ★★★ | August 2018
Heathers | ★★★★ | September 2018

 

Click here to see more of our latest reviews on thespyinthestalls.com

 

The Band – Full Cast

The full cast are now announced for David Pugh & Dafydd Rogers and Take That’s UK Tour of Tim Firth’s new musical, THE BAND, with the music of Take That. The tour will begin at Manchester Opera House on 8 September, with a national press night on Tuesday 26 September 2017.

The advance box office for the tour has now topped a record-breaking £10million.

 

LtoR Jayne McKenna, Emily Joyce, Rachel Lumberg, Alison Fitzjohn

 

 

Joining the previously announced AJ Bentley, Nick Carsberg, Curtis T Johns, Yazdan Qafouri and Sario Solomon, collectively known as 5 to 5, winners of BBC’s Let It Shine, who will play The Band, Rachel Lumberg as Rachel and Faye Christall as Young Rachel, will be Emily Joyce as Heather, Alison Fitzjohn as Claire, Jayne McKenna as Zoe, Katy Clayton as Young Heather, Sarah Kate Howarth as Young Claire, Lauren Jacobs as Young Zoe, Rachelle Diedericks as Debbie, Martin Miller as Jeff and Andy Williams as Dave.

AJ Bentley studied dance before taking part in Let It Shine. Nick Carsberg was a classic car restorer before taking part in Let It Shine. Curtis T Johns has been a songwriter for the last eight years, writing for artists such as Matt Cardle and Ray Quinn. He also owns and runs a rugby club in his home city of Leeds. Yazdan Qafouri is originally from Iran, but was raised in the North East of England. Sario Solomon made his professional debut at the age of 11 in Oliver! at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane.

Rachel Lumberg’s most recent tours include This Is My Family, The Full Monty, Dandy Dick and Calendar Girls. Faye Christall’s theatre credits include Broken Biscuits (Paines Plough), Gone Viral (St James Theatre) and One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (Edinburgh Fringe Festival), and she is part of the Cirque Du Soleil Company.

Emily Joyce’s television credits include series regulars Jill in My Almost Famous Family, Sarah Fletcher in Mutual Friends and Janet Dawkins in My Hero. Her most recent theatre includes Judy in the West End production of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time. Alison Fitzjohn has just finished as assistant director and performer in David Walliams’s tour of Gangsta Granny. She also played The Queen of Hearts/Duchess in the Olivier-nominated immersive production of Alice’s Adventures Underground by Les Enfants Terribles. Over the past 12 years, Alison has performed all over the world in Horrible Histories, Barmy Britain and Horrible Science. Jayne McKenna’s recent theatre credits include Rose Naracott in War Horse in the West End, Sylvia in This Happy Breed for the Peter Hall Company, Lily Gibb in Men Should Weep at the National and Lady Macbeth in Macbeth at the Northcott Theatre. She also appeared in the film version of the National Theatre’s production of London Road as Imelda.

Katy Clayton made her first TV appearance at the age of six on Coronation Street. She appeared in various TV shows such as Casualty, Shameless and Waterloo Road and played series regular Samantha Booth in Where the Heart Is for four years. Sarah Kate Howarth’s theatre credits include Copycat (Southwark Playhouse), Whistle Down The Wind (Union Theatre), Tess of the D’Urbervilles (New Wimbledon Theatre) and Spring Awakening (Edinburgh Fringe). Lauren Jacobs and Rachelle Diedericks will be making their professional debuts in THE BAND.

Martin Miller’s recent theatre includes Antonio in The Revenger’s Tragedy and Keith Haines in Darkness, both for Nottingham Playhouse, two UK tours of The Full Monty as Dave, and Alfred Hitchcock in The Lovesong of Alfred J Hitchcock (Leicester Curve, UK Tour and Brits Off Broadway). Andy Williams’s recent theatre credits include Arnold in Hir (Bush Theatre), Giles/Captain in Emma Rice’s production of Rebecca (Plymouth Theatre Royal/Tour), The 39 Steps (Criterion Theatre), Ted Narracot in War Horse (New London Theatre) and Albert/Fred/Stephen in Kneehigh Theatre’s Brief Encounter.

 

 

For further show information and full tour details please visit:

 

www.thebandmusical.com

 

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