Review: The Band at the Orchard Theatre

Guest review by Sarah Gaimster

This week, for one week only, the Orchard Theatre, Dartford, is hosting The Band – a new musical by Tim Firth, interwoven with a plethora of the hits of Take That.

Surprisingly this is not a story of how The Band rose to fame, and their ups and downs. Instead the tale is from their fans’ perspective and shows how, despite what life throws at them, they stay lifelong loyal fans.

The show opens in 1993 when we are introduced to 16-year-old Rachel (Faye Christall) dancing around her bedroom listening to the hits of her five heart throbs, ‘The Band’.

Life at home for Rachel lets the audience fondly reminiscence, with nods to nostalgic memories and references to Teletext, dancing around your bedroom to Top of the Pops and rows over the lost remote control – to name a few of the home scenes we can all relate to.

When Rachel makes it to school we meet her four friends Debbie, Claire, Zoe and Heather (Rachelle Diedricks, Sarah Kate Howarth, Lauren Jacobs and Katy Clayton) whose friendship and love of The Band makes them inseparable. The school friends decide to bunk off school after lunch to try and meet their heartthrobs, and there the journey begins.

We flick between what ensues that day in 1993, and how their life’s dream of meeting The Band is as alive as ever in the current day, when we see the friends now in their 40s (played by Rachel Lumberg, Alison Fitzjohn, Jayne McKenna and Emily Joyce).

The Band are played by Five to Five members Yazdan, Curtis, Nick, AJ and Sario, who won their places in BBC’s popular reality show Let it Shine. The five guys stitch the show together with 18 cleverly placed Take That hits.

The songs are well performed, in a couple of cases have been remastered to fit the tone of the scene, and are accompanied where relevant by Take That fans’ favourite dance moves and fabulous boy band stage costumes too.

A special mention should go to Andy Williams playing Every Dave, whose cameos include school caretaker, roadie, bus driver and policeman, to name a few. His character adds a scattering of light moments, comedy and more of The Band’s songs throughout the show.

The show takes the audience on an emotional rollercoaster with life troubles that we can all relate to. Claire’s story brings a tear to the eye at one point, but there are plenty of belly laugh moments placed throughout the ride to raise audience spirits too.

This is one of the best shows I have seen at the Orchard, so don’t miss the opportunity to see it while it’s here.

The Band is at the Orchard until Saturday 9th February, when it continues on its UK tour. Grab your tickets before it’s too late, this show is too good to miss!

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