Entertainment & Arts

Take That launch stage musical The Band - with help from Lulu

Mark Owen, Gary Barlow, Lulu and Howard Donald Image copyright PA
Image caption Lulu joined the Tate That trio for a post-show encore

Take That have joined forces with Lulu to launch The Band, a musical starring the winners of the BBC's Let It Shine.

Gary Barlow, Howard Donald and Mark Owen sang Relight My Fire with the Scottish singer at the end of Tuesday's press night at Manchester Opera House.

Written by Tim Firth and featuring Take That's music, the show tells of five female friends whose lives are shaped by their devotion to an unnamed band.

The show will embark on a UK tour after ending its Manchester run on Saturday.

Robbie Williams and Jason Orange were not on hand to see Five To Five - the boy band created by the Let It Shine talent show - sing the songs they made famous with Barlow, Donald and Owen.

Yet all five of the "Take That mums" were present for a performance which was akin to "travelling back 20 years", according to Robbie's mother Janet.

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Media captionThe mothers of Take That band members attend musical The Band

"I'm blown away with it," said Gary Barlow's mum Marjorie. "I've seen it quite a few times now and it just gets better."

"I'm thrilled for the boys," said Gary himself of Five To Five - individually known as AJ Bentley, Nick Carsberg, Curtis T Johns, Yazdan Qafouri and Sario Solomon.

"It's amazing to watch them," Howard told the BBC's Colin Paterson. "They work so hard and you can see their bond and friendship."

Owen, meanwhile, said he was not averse to stepping in for one of the show's young stars should any of them be indisposed.

"We're hanging around backstage hoping to get the call, but we've had no calls as yet," joked the 45-year-old.

Image copyright Matt Crockett

Reviews of the show - which opened after almost three weeks of previews - have largely been positive.

The Guardian's Peter Robinson called it "a warmly articulated, exciting and funny celebration of what it is to be a music fan", while The Stage praised its "witty and affectionate" sets.

Image copyright Matt Crockett

"You don't need to be a Take That superfan to appreciate the storyline," wrote The Sun's Dan Wootton, praising Firth's script for its "clever, laugh out loud gags".

Yet no amount of '90s nostalgia could sway the Telegraph's Dominic Cavendish, who deemed the show "almost artistically bankrupt".

Image copyright Matt Crockett

"Take That? Touring Tat more like," he continued. "It's great to hear those songs again, but otherwise it all feels terribly deja vu."

The Band's next stop in its UK tour will be at the Regent Theatre in Stoke-on-Trent, Robbie Williams' home town.


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