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Firstly, I must stress that I was never a fan of Take That, although some of their newer stuff is actually quite good, although I can’t forgive them for the horrendous cover of “Could It Be Magic” when they released it as a single back in the early nineties. My other half, on the other hand, was a massive fan and after being let down by her friend (who got swine flu – so I guess it is forgivable) I was roped in to going along with her.
“Never Forget” the musical is written by BAFTA award winner Danny Brocklehurst (whom also had a hand in both Shameless and Clocking Off), Guy Jones and Ed Curtis.
Ash Sherwood (Mark Willshire) – A wannabe singer-songwriter who is attempting to realise his dream of stardom (as well as making some money to help save the family pub and pay for his up and coming wedding) by touring the Manchester club scene.
Jake “The Face” Turner (Adam C Booth) – The best friend of Ash and brother of his fiancé Jake is a typical young and cocky alpha male that likes to think he is a bit of a player and successful ladies’ man.
Adrian Banks (Tom Bradley) – A quiet and shy banker who wants to prove something to himself as well as his cheating wife.
Dirty Harry (Philip Olivier) – A stupid stripper who is looking to regain some self respect.
Jose Reize (Scott Garnham) – A Spaniard that has travelled to England to make something out of his life away from his over protective, and un-appreciative other.
Chloe Turner – Sister of Jake and fiancé of Ash, who is more than happy to support her man and her brother in realizing their dream.
Babs Sherwood (Penelope Woodman) – Mother of Ash and land lady of the local pub but has encountered serious money problems.
Teddy Kempner (Ron Freeman) – The main man and manager who bought the band together. Like Babs, Teddy has money issues and he sees the band as his ticket to financial freedom.
Annie Borrowman (Kay Murphy) – A major record label talent scout who is out to make as much money as possible and not caring who needs to be trodden on, or exploited to get it.
Details of the main cast, as well as a profile picture and details of their relevant experience and qualifications etc. can be seen on the official Never Forget Tour website, www.neverforgetthemusical.com
Ash recently got engaged to Chloe and during the celebrations an unwelcome visitor, delivering bad news, turns up for Babs. The Sherwood family has 2 weeks to repay a loan shark or they face losing the family pub, a place that Ash holds close to his heart.
Jake has recently seen an audition board for a Take That tribute band and the successful applicants will take part in a talent show where the winners will win £10,000, which is just enough to save the pub. Jake persuades Ash to join him in the audition with a view to getting the money, and becoming famous in the process. Obviously, Jake and Ash make the band and are joined by Harry, Adrian and Jose to form the Take That Tribute band.
The lads, managed and directed by Teddy, are put through their paces and undergo an intensive training schedule in order to get ready for the competition. Teddy spots something special in one of the band member’s, and in order to make a bit of extra cash decides to sell him out to a successful talent scout, Annie.
This situation places stress on the individual’s family and personal relationships, as well as the band, and tension rises as there are claims of foul play and betrayal. Despite this, the remaining members will not let go of their dreams and decide to become a four piece and enter the competition.
Will the leaving band member make it alone? Will the remaining band members realize their full potential and dreams of becoming ‘some bodies’? Will the Sherwood family keep their pub? Will Teddy sort out his financial situation? Will Ash and Chloe be happy together?
The main cast members, as detailed above, are backed-up by a great supporting cast consisting of twelve dancers/singers, of which only two have very small speaking parts, and by small, I mean two very short telephone conversations throughout the whole show.
Given the content of the show, I was quite surprised that there were only twelve members but I don’t think anymore were required. Besides, the stage in the Theatre Royal is so small that getting any more people on stage would have been a very tight fit.
A full list of the supporting cast, as well as a profile picture and their experience/qualifications etc. can be viewed on the official Never Forget Tour Website.
Take That have been around for years, even though they did have a few years apart, and have released loads of songs. I have never been a real Take That fan, nor have I bothered to research just how many singles they have releases since it will add nothing to this review. There is no way that this show could cover every song in the time available but many of the most popular releases are covered, including;
i) Could It Be Magic ii) Pray iii) Never Forget iv) Take That and Party v) It only Takes a Minute vi) Babe vii) Do What You Like viii) Back For Good ix) I Found Heaven x) Every Guy xi) Once You’ve Tasted Love xii) Love Don’t Live Here Anymore xiii) Relight My Fire xiv) A Million Love Songs
Despite never being a Take That fan I recognised almost every song, and what’s more surprising is whilst looking through the programme, before the show started, I could actually sing the chorus of nearly all of them. I don’t know whether this is a true reflection of just how far and wide Take That’s music reached, or just that I am pretty sad. That said, there were two songs that I didn’t recognise and even after hearing the cast sing them I was still none the wiser. The two I refer to are Every Guy and Once You’ve Tasted Love.
One thing to note is there is none of the modern Take That songs in this show, which is a shame because I think the new stuff is actually very good, but saying that the older stuff is actually quite catchy (if not very cheesy) as well. In particular, I found myself singing Never Forget all the way home and in the shower for a few days afterwards. Maybe I am a closet Take That junkie.
This show has played/will be playing in the following venues up and down the country:
i) Norwich ii) Rhyl iii) Newcastle iv) Ipswich v) Plymouth vi) Oxford vii) Northampton viii) Cardiff ix) Wimbledon x) Nottingham xi) Cheltenham xii) Hull xiii) Wolverhampton; before finishing in Liverpool on 5 December 2009.
The timing of the shows makes no sense to me since it starts at one end of the country moves to the other and then moves back near to previous performances. Surely it would be more logical, and make more sense, to start up North and then travel South or vice versa?
I must admit that I was very dubious and was expecting a concert consisting of a group of unknowns singing some Take That classics. I should have looked at the official website, read some reviews or even looked at the Theatre Royal website since any of these would have told me how far off the mark I was since this show turned out to be a comedy consisting of a very cheesy (and frankly naff) storyline with some very cheesy acting, mediocre singing but great dancing.
The acting wasn’t amazing, nor were there any Oscar winning performances and I wasn’t blown away by it, but on the whole it was very good and all the main cast did a good job. There were a few dodgy moments (but this is to be expected) and there were some scenes where the characters were cringe worthy to watch, and I actually felt embarrassed for them which was quite an uncomfortable feeling. The scene that sticks out in my memory is where Ash and Chloe are having an argument and then they break out in to a song. I guess this is the fault of the writer and producers and not the main cast though.
I think I may be being a bit critical of the acting since given the cheesy storyline and the fact that this is a feel good show with a lot of comedy the acting doesn’t need to amazing. Other than Ash all the band members have their ‘own’ comedy scenes whereby they have their time in the spot light, and I must say that these scenes are proper laugh out loud funny, which surprised me as I was not expecting this show to be comical in any way.
The scenes that stick out for me include Jake’s audition, Adrian’s golden clothing (which is even funnier when he turns around), Jose’s sayings and translations of those sayings, Harry’s scene in the sombrero and the bands first live gig. It is a shame that Ash had no comedy moments, but then I guess the writers wanted there to be a sensible member and that was Ash.
If asked I couldn’t pick a favourite character or actor since they all had some great scenes and they all had some very poor scenes. Whilst Ash was clearly the main character of the show all the others had their fair share of stage time and scenes, and I would probably say that Ash had maybe ten minutes more on stage than the other band members.
Other than the Relight My Fire number I can only describe the singing as mediocre. In my opinion the actors didn’t put enough emotion in to it, especially ‘Babe’, and I felt it was a bit flat and a bit too cabaret. There were scenes where the songs should have moved me to tears but many of these were just cringe worthy.
The singers attempted to make the songs their own, so those that are expecting to hear an exact replica of Take That’s version are going to be disappointed. In some numbers the changes worked very well, especially in ‘Pray’ but in others it just didn’t.
Chloe and Annie sung solo numbers and, in my opinion, these were just awful. A female singing a male group’s song just didn’t work in my opinion and I must confess that it did ruin the show for me, which is a shame. In addition, Chloe’s number was very flat and below the note (even I noticed this and I am not musical, although my other half is and she was wincing all the way through the number) although she stayed below it all the way through and didn’t change key so that’s something I guess.
What I found most disappointing was the ‘Never Forget’ number, which should have been the highlight of the show. This is a song that should be sung with great passion and emotion and with great volume to get the audience on their feet, but this did not happen, which is a shame. Once again, the vocals were mediocre and it was sung very quietly. It was a real let down.
On the other hand Relight My Fire was really belted out by all the cast, and was, in my opinion, the song and performance of the show. The female part was sung by Chloe and I think she absolutely nailed this performance. The key was spot on, the pitch was spot on, the volume was spot on and she looked gorgeous. It was an excellent number all round.
The dancing was absolutely brilliant throughout. At the start the band, being new and fresh, need to be trained and the guys do a great job of pretending they can’t dance and moving around in an uncoordinated manner whilst singing before suddenly getting their act together and giving an award winning performance.
It was easy to see that all the cast, other than Philip Olivier, had been trained to dance and they were all very good. The male backing dancers in particular were amazing and consistently wooed the crowd with some flips, somersaults and numerous strength ‘holds’. They were brilliant to watch, unlike Phillip.
Phillip obviously tried his best and looked like he was giving it his all but he looked uncomfortable, stiff and was nowhere near up to the standard of his peers. There are many scenes whereby Philip will back away from the main dance and stand at a bar or something and just sway about to the music, and then once the routine gets ‘easy’ he will jump back in and join them.
In my opinion, Philip shouldn’t have been cast and I think the role should have gone to an established dancer who is up to the same standard as everyone else on stage, but then I guess many shows have ‘celebrity’ stars since these help bring in the crowds. In addition, he provides a bit of eye candy for the ladies and the bloke has clearly been working out since he is in absolutely awesome shape and regularly gets his clothes off, much to the delight of the female audience.
I have to add that this show has one of the best dance offs I have ever seen. It is absolutely fantastic and had me in stitches all the way through it, with some great choreography, great facial expressions/acting and some real ‘cheese’ all to the cheesiest Take That song of all time, ‘Take That And Party’. What could be more appropriate?
Whilst the stage and sets and backgrounds were well done, attractive and complimented the overall show they not awe inspiring and nowhere near the standard of a West End show. Given the West End stages are built and used for a number of years and Never Forget is a touring show that only uses the stage for a couple of nights at the most I guess it is unfair to compare the two stage sets. However, the number of backgrounds was very limited and can be counted on one hand.
The special effects and lighting were minimal but I guess they were adequate for the size and type of the production. If you just consider this show the stage, lighting and special effects are good, but if you compare it to a West End show, like I did, then all three are very poor and you are going to be a bit disappointed.
Overall Never Forget is a great musical with some cheesy acting, mediocre singing of well known songs and fantastic dancing.
It is not a concert of Take That songs sung by a tribute band so if this is what you are after this show is not for you. Unfortunately, there were many people in the show I saw who seemed to be expecting a concert type performance and many of these seemed very disappointed. Why did these people not look at the official website before booking tickets? Why did they not read the (very short) reviews on that site? It’s ridiculous, the information was out there but these ‘old school groupie’ just didn’t use it.
In the showing I saw I would say that 95% of the audience were women, mainly in the 25 – 35 age bracket, but I guess this was to be expected. Of the few blokes that were there (obviously accompanying their other halves) most looked very uncomfortable, especially in the final act when the audience were invited to stand and dance/clap to the final medley of numbers.
The final medley was too long and I must admit that I got bored with it all. One encore is fine, but the tracks were sung over and over and over again, especially the signature track “Never Forget” and I soon found myself clock watching and wishing it would come to an end, which is a bit of a shame. Looking around during the 4th or 5th encore I could see that other audience members were getting bored as well and many stopped singing/dancing and clapping and just stood there, just like me.
(Originally posted on Dooyoo under the name of Yackers1)