Just off a roundabout in Central Manchester, you will find an unlikely looking musical milestone. With its cream walls whose blinding vanilla has been muted by generations of passing diesel fumes, Manchester’s 02 Apollo has been the home of many an international act.
A really important one to generations of boy-band fans has now been marked with the official launch of Take That’s first musical The Band.
It was the place where they held their very first gig back in 1992 and a quarter-of-a-century later, it was where they unveiled their very first workshop performance of the show.
A specially invited audience including the theatre’s John Bultitude got a first look at what is in store ahead of its arrival in the city on February 6-17.
The first sign that a key moment in boy-band history was going to be made came with the snaking line of fans queuing up in plenty of time for curtain up.
On arrival, there were stories of cross-country trips to see the boy-band in action and the dedication to Gary, Robbie, Mark, Howard and Jason.
And it is this support and place in the life of so many that lies at the heart of this fantastic show. It flashes back to five excitable teenage girls whose thrill at seeing The Band starts off what Gary Barlow himself calls a ‘rollercoaster of emotions.”
It then flashes forward 25 years to see what has happened to them since and how strong their bond to The Band remains.
Revealing all about the production would be unfair as there is still some work to be done before the tour begins in the autumn but it does feature a host of Take That’s biggest hits from their early days to now.
Let It Shine winners AJ, Nick, Curtis, Yazdan and Sario may be very humble off-stage but they give 100 per cent power and passion to their performance playing a multitude of roles and showing a versatility and flair more akin to performers with years of musical theatre experience under their belts.
The show’s script is beautifully observed by Tim Firth mixing in cultural references, fantastic humour and some beautifully poignant touches.
And the director Jack Ryder deserves praise for teasing out some stunning performances from a very assured cast and accurately capturing the strong bond on-stage and off of The Band.
If this is still a work in progress, then the tour itself promises to be very special.
Gary told guests after the VIP performance they will laugh, cry, sing and dance, and remember why they have a passion for pop, and he is right.
One thing is for sure. The Band is definitely going to be top of the theatrical charts in a show that will touch your heart in every way.
And without giving too much away, the moment A Million Love Songs is performed, you will need a heart of stone not to be affected.
Don’t miss this show.