Girls set to ‘Rule The World’ as Take That musical The Band arrives in Norwich
- Credit: Matt Crockett
Take That may be providing the hits, and Five to Five will be performing them on stage, but The Band is actually the story of a group of female friends who grow up loving their musical heroes, as its leading ladies tell us…
It is the musical that has at its heart a band and a group of its devoted fans so when you ask the ladies of the cast if they have a point of reference, it briefly creates minor chaos.
Before you can say 'Jackie Magazine', the names of popstar crushes are being revealed, accompanied by shrieks of disbelief and gales of laughter.
'I was a die-hard Spandau Ballet fan,' volunteers Rachel Lumberg, who plays Rachel. 'I loved the Kemp boys, especially Martin because he played double bass and at gigs he sat on the edge of the stage and dangled his legs over the side, so if you were down at the front you could touch him,' she sighs.
'It was Duran Duran for me,' chimes in Emily Joyce (Heather in the show). 'I was going to marry John Taylor. I look back now and can't quite work out why that didn't happen – a total mystery,' she laughs, in mock bewilderment.
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For Jayne McKenna (who plays Zoe), the relatively recent loss of her pop idol sees her close to tears: 'I saw David Bowie four or five times and I loved him. When he died the reaction from the world made me feel that from the age of 11, I backed the right horse. All my friends loved Wham! but it was all about Bowie for me.'
For baby of the bunch Alison Fitzjohn, (who plays Claire), her crush is a little more recent. It also happens to be perfectly in tune with the show, which is being produced by a team that includes members of a certain super group.
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'For me it was all about Take That,' she swoons, admitting that Mark has a special place in her heart. 'Having met them now it seems surreal, but I was 16 and I absolutely adored them. I had the sticker book and some limited edition photo-cards,' she boasts, prompting gentle teasing from the rest of the gang.
The Band is based on the music of Take That rather than being the story of band. It has been written by the award-winning Tim Firth who, along with Gary Barlow, penned The Girls musical, based on the story of The Calendar Girls who stripped for a charity calendar.
The show is on an 11-month tour before heading into London's West End and runs at Norwich Theatre Royal from February 6-17. It will also be back at the Ipswich Regent in 2019.
The girls' pride in the show is palpable and the ladies are keen to tell us why it is so special, and indeed different, to your average musical.
'The story has so much heart and it's about fully-rounded characters,' says Alison, adding, 'Tim [Firth] has written a fantastic story, which married together with the music of Take That is the perfect combination, and of course the boys from Let it Shine are brilliant and bring such an amazing element to it.
'It's also cross generational; you've got the kids who would have watched Let it Shine, Take That fans and then the mums and dads of Take That fans. It's totally relatable and I think it's going to be a joy to watch – a real trip down memory lane.'
Agreeing, Emily picks up the baton: 'It's not the story of Take That but the story of these girls and what happens in their lives and how they cope with life. It could be any band that they have in common.
'It is so well written and audiences will, I think, go away feeling like they have been on a huge emotional roller coaster of a journey — and Take That can't half write a good tune!'
Could it be magic? Take That on new musical The Band as it arrives in NorwichRachel insists that this is more of a play with music than it is a traditional musical. That said they all descend into peels of laughter as they recall an early rehearsal when the choreographer asked them to come in the next day in their dance clothes.
'We just laughed at him,' says Jayne, 'but we decided to really go for it and the next day we came in wearing the full kit – pants over the top of leotards, legwarmers – the lot!'
'It was a hoot,' confirms Emily. 'We were howling with laughter most of the time, but we were also looking at the girls playing our younger selves.'
Agreeing that they do all get on like the proverbial house on fire, Jayne adds: 'it is very rare you go into a job with four women of a similar age, but the connection was quite instant for us.'
• The Band is at Norwich Theatre Royal from February 6-17, £49.50-£8, 01603 630000, theatreroyalnorwich.co.uk• The show will be back to visit Ipswich Regent from February 12-16 in 2019.
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