Five to Five boys on Take That and bringing the musical to Norwich
- Credit: Matt Crockett
Let it Shine winners Five to Five tell us how touring, friendship and being cast in Tim Firth and Take That's musical all adds up to a surreal but mind-blowingly exciting opportunity.
Trying to get the boys of Five to Five to sit down and calm down is like trying to herd a litter of adorable but super-excited puppies. But having won a national TV talent show to star in new musical The Band such high spirits are understandable.
'It does feel a bit surreal, especially when Gary messages us,' says AJ Bentley, whose mum, a big Take That fan, told him about the Let it Shine TV search.
'Just being in a working environment with Take That is incredible. I've looked up to them my whole life and to be mentored by them is mind-blowing.'
Settling next to me on the sofa, Iranian-born Yazdan (Yaz) Qafouri nods in agreement. 'We went to see Robbie backstage recently. That he knew who we were was just crazy!'
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Crazy it may be, but it is also testament to the talent and drive of these young men. For Yaz, who at the age of four came to the UK with his parents as asylum seekers, the achievement is especially sweet.
But today their focus is on The Band and they are eager to talk about what audiences can expect. 'It is a unique show in that it will work for people who perhaps don't like traditional musicals,' says Curtis T Johns. 'It is a great story and we have an amazing creative team who have worked on real life Take That tours.'
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Sario Soloman, who describes himself as half Japanese and half Geordie, interjects: 'It has all the classic Take That songs in it, all the hits are there.'
With an anxious look flashing across his handsome face he adds, 'I really hope we do it justice.'
Could it be magic? Take That on new musical The Band as it arrives in NorwichIndeed, the five are united in wanting to pay proper homage to their heroes.
'Watching Take That in concert recently made it so exciting to think about where our production is going to go. It's definitely not just a jukebox musical,' confirms AJ.
'There's no other show like it,' agrees Nick Carsberg, a former apprentice from a classic car restorer who hails from Great Dumow in Essex. 'It creates a completely different experience. This is so different to your standard musical.'
Using Take That songs, Tim Firth's story will almost certainly chime with anyone who grew up being a fan of a band or artist.. Directed by Kim Gavin and Jack Ryder, Yaz is quick to point out that almost everyone will identify with the story.
'You'll relate to it because you'll come and see yourself. I hope people will go home and hold their loved ones a bit tighter and reconnect with people they haven't seen for a while, but I think ultimately they will be uplifted. It still really hits me when we get to the end of the show, and that first impact on audiences will be really special.'
For Curtis, the music is vital. 'I want people to leave thinking how important music and music culture is. It will make people think about the soundtracks we all have to our lives,' he explains, adding, 'That said, Tim's writing is just so, so good.'
'They will be laughing and crying – it is an emotional experience,' says Sario.
'But very funny too,' AJ butts in. 'We are still laughing at the same jokes.'
Girls set to 'Rule The World' as Take That musical The Band arrives in NorwichChat turns to the TV show that won them their roles – the banter and familiar short-hand way that they talk to one another proof of the tight-knit group they have already become.
'The TV show was an amazing experience and performing with Take That was definitely a high point,' says Curtis, already grinning as the others start teasing, knowing full well what he will highlight as his low point.
'Yeah, yeah! Learning to dance was the rubbish point, but it was still amazing,' he laughs, as the others recall their personal highs and lows of the experience.
'All our friends and family are proud of us, but only us five know how it felt to do the TV show and to be where we are now,' says AJ.
For Nick the Norwich Theatre Royal dates are especially significant. 'All my family and friends are coming to see the show in Norwich, so that will be a special week for me,' he says.
• The Band is at Norwich Theatre Royal until February 17, £49.50-£8, 01603 630000, theatreroyalnorwich.co.ukReview: The Band, Norwich Theatre Royal, could it be magic? I think it might well be