Written by award winning writer Tim Firth, The Band is a beautiful story for anyone who grew up with a boyband and how those songs became the soundtrack to their lives.
For five 16 year old girls in 1992, the band is everything. 25 years on, we are reunited with this group of friends as they try once more to fulfil their dream of meeting their heroes.
Featuring the music of Take That, Britain’s most successful boyband of all time, whose songs include Never Forget, Back For Good, A Million Love Songs, Greatest Day, The Flood, Relight My Fire, Shine & Rule the World and starring the winners from the BBC’s Let it Shine, Five to Five.
The Band is now the fastest selling musical theatre tour of all time,we caught up with Mark Owen who talks Take That, being a producer and how quitting the fags has seen his love of chocolate escalate:
Q:The Bandis a new musical that uses Take That songs as a soundtrack. It has been such a hot ticket you have had to extend the tour, including a West End run. Are you a proud producer just now?
A:We are made up that people are connecting with the show and enjoying it so much. Sometimes I feel a bit guilty for the young guys who won the competition [the five boys who won TV’s ‘Let it Shine’ search for the musical’s title roles] because I don’t think they knew just how much work was involved. But I guess it’s a dream for them and I am made up for them, too.
Q: The Bandtells the story of a group of 16 year-old friends who love a particular but non-specific band. Years later they try to fulfil their dream of meeting their heroes. Why do you think people love the show so much?
A:Nostalgia. It brought me back to when I was a teenager knocking about with my mates and the dreams that I had then. It made me contact old friends after I saw it. People slip from us as we get busy with life, but the show made me reminisce. It was like a pause button. Oh yeah, and it’s got these amazing songs in it!
Q: How have you enjoyed mentoring the young lads who won the TV show Let It Shine and who play the band of the title?
A:I’ve enjoyed the mentoring more than anything. You feel like a father to his son and we had sit-down talks about looking after each other and about going out into the world! It has been a real pleasure. Their energy is really positive; they inspire us. It really does work both ways. The whole experience has been wonderful. To work with someone like Tim Firth who has such an incredible pedigree and the whole crew – everyone on the show is so lovely. I have really enjoyed a sneak peek into the theatre world and feeling that energy. I was really glad that it was our music that was chosen to be the basis of the story.
Q: The show sees the older women looking back at their younger selves. What advice, with the benefit of hindsight, would you give your teenage self?
A:A lot! I’d probably have a big sit-down with myself! But probably I’d say just embrace it all; the ups and downs and left and rights. Oh, and don’t have that first fag; don’t start smoking. My mum and dad smoked for forty-odd years and just stopped. I’m so made up for them and so proud of them. My thing is chocolate now. Don’t tell anyone, but I did eat some of my children’s Easter Eggs this year.
Q:Who or what was in the posters on your bedroom wall as a teenager?
A:I was quite into football so Pelé, Maradona and Liverpool players were my pin-ups. Music wise it was Madonna and Elvis. I loved Elvis and grew up listening to him because mum was a big fan. I used to put lard in my hair and sing Elvis songs. Mum went mad with me!