(Left to Right) Jayne McKenna, Emily Joyce, Rachel Lumberg, Alison Fitzjohn
Last week we were privileged to get a sneak preview of new musical The Band, penned by Tim Firth and jam-packed with Take That tunes. It’s currently proving to be one of the hottest tickets in town and wowing audiences in Manchester, where it has had its UK premiere.
Press night isn’t until next week so we can’t give away any secrets until after that but we can tell you we are counting down the days until we see it again.
Opening Night was treated to meeting the stars of the show after the curtain fell and over the next few days we will be posting some of our interviews with the cast and production team, sharing some of the secrets to putting the musical together.
First up we chatted to a couple of the incredibly talented ladies at the forefront of The Band. Emily Joyce who plays grown up Heather and Jayne McKenna the grown up Zoe…
Emily Joyce as Heather, Alison Fitzjohn as Claire & Jayne McKenna as Zoe in rehearsals for The Band, credit Matt Crockett
(Opening Night) ON: You all look like you are having a ball up there…
(Emily Joyce) EJ: We really are. I’ve not enjoyed anything like this for a long time!
ON: How excited are you about the potential of this show?
EJ: Very excited. A lot of people come expecting the story of Take That and it’s not. It’s about the women, friendship, tenderness and the boys (Five To Five) provide this beautiful soundtrack to their lives which is quite filmic. It’s wonderful taking the audience through the highs and lows and an absolute joy to play.
ON: Did you have any idea you were auditioning for The Band or was it all cloak and dagger at the start?
EJ: We hadn’t seen the script but were told it was off the back of a BBC TV programme and then when the programme came out (Let It Shine) we had already had second auditions by then and had to be recorded to sing…for Gary Barlow, Robbie and everyone else…no pressure there then!
ON: Did you get the parts you went for?
(Jayne McKenna) JM: We both went up for Heather or Zoe…
EJ: It was during my second interview that they said actually would you mind reading Heather…
JM: I’m a mother of three boys and I think they saw in me something that clicked with the character and interestingly then Tim (Firth) started to adapt the characters around us. I had actually wanted to go to Uni in real life but didn’t because I had kids, like Zoe.
EJ: And I sow and make clothes like my character Heather…
JM: It’s like the parts have been tailored made for us.
ON: Now you obviously play the girls 25 years on, what’s your relationship with the actresses who play the younger versions of you (as 16 year olds)?
EJ: We are quite protective over them
JM: I call them our mini-me’s. It’s great because they all embrace what they are doing. There was a day during the run throughs that they were so good we were all like ‘god we are gonna have to up our game here!’
(Left to Right) Five To Five: Curtis T Johns, Nick Carsberg, AJ Bentley, Yazdan Qafouri, Sario Solomon
ON: What about the boys Five To Five? Obviously there was a lot of focus on them after winning Let It Shine…
JM: They are the hardest working boys and lovely people – what a find! Plus the first day we all rehearsed together Tim described the boys as a greek chorus and all of a sudden it made sense how they fit into the show. They are part of everything and not just singing at the back like you might think – they are integral to the story.
ON: Talking of the boys…if we switch to the real ones behind the show – aka Take That, who is your favourite member?
EJ: Now or then?
ON: It’s changed?
EJ: Back then I liked Mark, I still do he’s absolutely gorgeous but Howard now, he is lovely. I do think they get better with age.
(We are joined by Alison Fitzjohn who plays Claire)
AF: …Mark! I just love him, although I really did like Howard when he had his dreadlocks. I’m exactly the right age for my character and I absolutely loved Take That when I was growing up. Now meeting them has been unbelievably insane, I keep crying every now and then because I can’t quite believe it. At the end when we sing the lyrics ‘this is the life we’ve been given’ I’m like this really IS the life I’ve been given and it makes me very emotional to be standing there.
Runs at Manchesters’ Opera House until 30th September 2017
Tickets available: http://www.atgtickets.com/shows/the-band/opera-house-manchester/