Thursday, 19 April 2018

The Band Musical Theatre Review - A Fantastic Nostalgic Show


Take me back, take me back, to where I used to be... 
I have been to quite a few Bristol Hippodrome productions as a reviewer, but this one was a bit different. I was a huge Take That fan in my youth and I was anticipating a walk down memory lane, experiencing all the songs and dance moves I remembered from my dim and distant past. It certainly didn't disappoint on that score, but there was so much more to it. This is the story of how I ended up watching what could have been part of my own life story unfold on stage, in the hilarious and touching tale that is The Band Musical.


When I arrived at the theatre for this performance, I knew little about The Band Musical. As a die-hard super-fan of Take That in the 90's, I was confident I would love it, but it had a few surprises in store that I was not expecting. Firstly, it's not about the band, as such. It does feature them, in pretty much every scene, but the story centres around the fans and what it feels like to immerse yourself as a teenage girl in the life and music of a boy band. I don't think there was a lady in that audience who wasn't instantly transported back to their own fan-girling heydays, but for me it was extra-special, because I was that sixteen year old girl, going to see Take That for the first time during their Party tour in the early nineties. I have to say, at this stage, a massive well done to the wardrobe department, the 90's outfits were spot on, I think one of the girls was wearing the very shoes I begged my parents for to wear to school that year. Black, and oh-so-very chunky. I was expecting great songs, I was hoping for brilliant dancing, but I was not expecting a poignant, sweet and uplifting tale of the swiftness of time and the fragility of youth. 


And that was the second surprise; this is not simply a nostalgic song-fest to appease Take That fans, it's actually a brilliantly woven tale that takes you from North East England in the 90's to modern-day Prague, following the lives of a group of friends, full of dreams and wide-eyed youth, as they discover what they really wanted all along. It's so very funny and, like all good comedies, you can be laughing out loud one moment and unexpectedly touched by emotion the next. There are a few sexual references and even the case of a missing penis, so I wouldn't suggest you take any little ones, unless you are okay with a few awkward questions! 



I loved the stage direction for this show. It can't have been easy to illustrate what it means to be at that age where you can completely immerse yourself in pop music and culture. Where nothing else matters and you don't just hear the songs, but you can almost feel as if you are there with the band. When listening to music isn't just something to pass the time, it is a wholly encompassing experience that can provide solitude, or distraction, or comfort, in a way that I think most of us forget about as we get older. This show is perfectly illustrated from the point of view of a sixteen year old girl, it doesn't feel awkward or silly, like it would if it was an adult's viewpoint of fandom, but instead it captures the innocence and the joy of the moment, without any grown-up cynicism. 


The songs played a very important role in the production. They were wonderfully sung and beautifully choreographed, but they also helped to tell the story. My favourite scene was when the young fans and their older selves sang a version of Back for Good and the lyrics took on a whole new meaning. It became a ballad that spoke of youthful apology, matched against an older and wiser longing for the past. There are many occasions where the songs are used to convey the emotion of a scene and I think that is what makes this show work. It's not just a series of crowd-pleasing hits, which would have been very entertaining, the songs are part of the fabric of the story. 


The climax to this show was a feel-good finish, without any hint of over-indulgence or tackiness. It was perfectly poised to deliver the perfect happy ending, whilst tying together quite a few loose ends. I think many people could relate to the plot, tracing their lives from teen to forty-something and learning who you are at various stages. There are many reasons to go and see this show. Go for the music, go for the humour, if you are a Take That fan, go now, what are you waiting for? But, if you were a Take Thatter of the 90's with a dummy around your neck and a song in your heart, this is an opportunity to be transported back twenty five years, to the clumpy-shoe wearing, multi-scrunchy sporting days when all that mattered was Smash Hits and Mark Owen's dolphin tattoo. Opportunities like that don't come along every day, so take that and party! 

The Band Musical remains at The Bristol Hippodrome until the 28th of April and then continues its tour around the UK and Ireland. Tickets are on sale now.


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15 comments

Talya said...

Oh wow this is totally my era! Love how nostalgic this is....can't beat a bit of 90s throwback music.

Our Fairytale Adventure said...

What an interesting angle for a production. It must have been such a wonderful performance to see, especially as a take that fan!

Sonia Cave said...

I love musicals and I have not heard of this one, but it sounds like I would enjoy it very much. Unfortunately I rarely get to go to them as my other half doesn't like them :-(

Five Little Doves said...

Wow what a great production! That is totally something I would watch!

Stella Olojola said...

I like the sound of this show. Never seen anything like it.

Dear Mummy Blog said...

This is my mummy’s generation and she’d love to be transported back to the 90’s. We watched the TV auditions so definitely a show for us!

Joanna Victoria -x said...

I've not heard of this musical before. I definitely wouldn't mind going to see it as I do love these kind of shows.

Have Diapers, Will Travel: A Family Travel Blog said...

This sounds absolutely amazing! I'd never heard of it and as a huge musical theater fan that really surprised me, but I'm based in Florida and it sounds like this is strictly for the UK right now. It really does sound amazing though, I grew up in the 90s and was OBSESSED with Take That, I'm sure I would totally relate to the story. We're back in the UK at Christmas, I'll have to look and see if it will still be playing anywhere.

Scandi Mummy said...

Aw, who doesn’t love a bit of 90’s music! This looks fab.

Anonymous said...

Go and see it by yourself or with friends - it really is worth it :)

Anonymous said...

They are doing 50 shows in Haymarket Theatre in London over Christmas if you are anywhere near there?

Linda Hobbis said...

Sounds like a great musical. I hadn't heard of this one but I'm not sure I can take Caitlin and Ieuan to it - for a good few years!

Beth @ BethinaBox.com said...

Oh wow!!! I think I would love this. I too was a die hard Take That fan back in the day! :)

Anosa Malanga said...

I am yet to attend a musical but I do love Take That though I can not imagine what it must have been life in the 90s.

Kara Guppy said...

We saw this at Southampton Mayflower and I loved it. Was more emotional than I was expecting but the music was fantastic

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