Wednesday, 8 April 2009

Never Forget - Manchester Opera House

Never Forget
Book: Danny Brocklehurst, Guy Jones & Ed Curtis
Music & Lyrics: Gary Barlow
Director: Ed Curtis
Choreographer: Karen Bruce
Reviewer: Stephanie Rowe

One cannot deny the huge impact Take That had on the British and world music scene during the 1990s, so it was only a matter of time considering the west end is saturated with them, that another jukebox musical was created using the songs of the boy band from Manchester.

As with all Jukebox musicals the story is wafer thin, but it is bloody good fun. Ash & Jake are best friends and when Babs' pub is close to closing for the last time Ash & Jake see the opportunity to save the pub when an Audition for a Take That tribute band just happens to be taking place around the corner, the band are needed for a tribute band competition with the first place winners scooping the £10,000 top prize (just the amount needed to save the pub.) but as with all musicals things just don't happen as easy as it should and problems and love issues appear left right and centre.

This touring production see's a new set design by Morgan Large, his design is simple yet highly flexible, with different coloured walls that turn around to reveal the different locations within the play. Director Ed Curtis has created a slick fast paced production that flows with real energy from scene to scene and the end of Act 1 rain finale is just simply amazing. Karen Bruse also injects a huge amount of energy with her choreography, which leaves you breathless by just watching.

Adam C Booth is the only 'lead' that has come straight from the West End production where he understudied the role of Jake, the same role he now performs. His portrayal of Jake brings many laughs and the cheeky chappy routine throughout adds a great dynamic that compliments the rest of the boys well. Mark Willshire as Ash is fantastic and has a wonderful singing voice.

Watching Philip Olivier on Paul O'Grady recently he appeared to be nervous and showing a real lack of self believe in his stage ability, but on the night the boy done good, he seemed comfortable in his role and I am sure as the tour goes on he will only get bigger and better. Scott Garnham gave us a lovable and camp Jose, and Tom Bradley finished the boy band to perfection.

Other notable nods should be given to Shaun Williamson as Manger Ron Freeman a part that you could swear was written for him and to Penelope Woodman as Babs, possibly the strongest and most believable Babs the show has ever seen. Unfortunately not all the cast are as strong as one would hope, Aimie Atkinson as love interest Chloe was inconsistant in her performance with knockout vocals on one song then weak and out of tune on others.
If you are a fan of Take That, or love a show where you can really let go and forget all your worries then make sure you book your ticket for Never Forget when it tours to a venue near you soon.

Never Forget runs at the Manchester Opera House until Sat 18th April 2009
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