DURING our teens popstars are some of the most important figures in our lives and forever hold a unique place in our hearts.
They can unite a group of friends, help them through family problems, give them their first taste of freedom and allow them to relive their youth in decades to come.
These are just some of the themes touched upon in the new musical, The Band, which is based around the music of Take That and is at the Sheffield Lyceum until October 14.
Like many musicals these days some of the show’s cast were picked by TV viewers and celebrity judges on BBC One’s Let It Shine, headed up by Take That front man Gary Barlow, earlier this year.
Amazingly, the musical has now gone on to become the fastest selling musical theatre tour of all time, which as a life-long Take That fan is no surprise to me as “Thatters” are a dedicated army of fans who usually put the group first before their own partners.
But the show isn’t centered on the story of Gary, Mark, Robbie, Jason and Howard, instead it follows a group of five female school friends who the audience first meets in 1992 when Top of the Pops was life.
Sixteen-year-old Rachel is in her Manchester bedroom, escaping another argument between her parents who are on the verge of a divorce, listening to her favourite boyband Rise.
Rise features Let It Shine winners Five To Five — AJ Bentley, Nick Carsberg, Curtis T Johns, Yazdan Qafouri and Sario Solomon — who emerge from Rachel’s TV, wardrobe and drawers in matching double denim dungarees (swoon) and I immediately felt 13 again.
The five fresh-faced lads fire through an arsenal of ‘TT’ hits helping me to brush off my Do What You Like dance moves.
The energetic band stirred up memories of Take That in their early days, sadly minus the jelly and leather, and proved they were deserving winners.
I nearly imploded as they slid into the Pray dance – gets me every time.
There’s no let up for the band, despite their ever-changing outfits and set changes their impressive harmonies didn’t falter and it was clear from the screams they’re building up their own fan base.
The only topic of conversation for the girls at school the next day was: “Did you see Top of the Pops last night?”, something I remember well.
After winning a competition the girls get to attend their first concert together to see Rise.
The show beautifully captures the excitement of this milestone event which is the girl’s first taste of freedom, independence and sense of belonging to a cause — which after the events of the Manchester Arena terrorist attack now feels even more poignant.
After the highs of the concert the girls’ lives take an unexpected turn and they go their separate ways, only to be reunited 25 years later thanks to their undying love of Rise.
Hilarious, heartfelt moments are aplenty as the adult women take a trip to Prague, soundtracked perfectly by The Greatest Day and featuring a water fountain that comes to life.
The script has a lot of unexpected depth which had the audience welling up throughout as the leading ladies’ close-knit bond was something many could relate to.
This nostalgic trip down 90s memory lane is for anyone who has ever idolised a boyband, covered their bedroom in Smash Hits posters and recorded their favourite songs onto cassette tape.
Tickets are priced from £19.50, to buy visit the Sheffield Theatres’ box office, call 0114 249 6000 or visit sheffieldtheatres.co.uk.
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