IT was the surprise to end all surprises as Take That burst on to stage to bring the curtain down on the spectacular new musical featuring their hits.

The excitement had already reached fever pitch in the Mayflower Theatre auditorium as the opening night of The Band drew to a close in true musical theatre tradition with a mass sing and dance a long to Take That’s greatest hits.

As if needed, the MC encouraging the audience to get involved was the cue for even more raucous celebration and every member of the sold out audience was on their feet.

Then, from nowhere, a nonchalant Mark Owen appeared centre stage to deafening screams. The arrival of the remainder of the current Take That trio, Gary Barlow and Howard Donald, pretty much raised the roof.

The unexpected appearance was enough to send the already excited audience wild.

They joined the cast to belt out a medley of numbers including Let It Shine, Never Forget and Hold Up A Light.

Speaking to the Daily Echo backstage, Gary joked: “We couldn’t have a better warm up act! It’s a brilliant show. But this is just the beginning, you’re watching the first incarnation. We have big plans for this show, we’re going to try to take it all over the world.”

Howard, who travelled from his home in Ringwood, added: “Who would have thought after 25 years we’d still be here anyway, let alone have a musical based on our music. Even following it from the beginning, watching them on stage is an emotional moment.

Another Hampshire resident, Mark, from Petersfield, said: “It really makes you reflect and look at your life, even us. This show really makes me think of my younger self.”

The Band has already taken £10 million at the box office, making it the fastest selling musical in history and is currently enjoying a two week stint in Southampton as part of its first ever tour.


THATTERS rejoice, a slice of pop heaven, one great big (Take That and) party has arrived in Southampton.

Imagine a play from the pen of super talented Calendar Girls creator Tim Firth, which makes you howl with laughter and bawl your eyes out and cross it with a spectacular top notch musical and a raucous pop concert featuring your favourite band of all time.

Sound like one of the best nights out you’ve ever had? That’s pretty much how it felt to be in the audience for the Southern premiere of Take That musical The Band last night.

A feverish reception met the cast of this epic new show, which is co-produced by Gary Barlow, Howard Donald, Mark Owen and Robbie Williams with the backing of Jason Orange.

There was dancing in the aisles, whooping, cheering and whipping out of phones and that was even before the current Take That trio took to the stage for a spectacular surprise finale.

The Band tells the story of a group of teenage girls for whom the band means everything. We meet them 25 years on, learning their back story of love and loss to the soundtrack of Take That’s brilliant back catalogue.

For every Mamma Mia, there is a Viva Forever and jukebox musicals can be guilty of shoe horning songs in to suit the story. But The Band, which I’m convinced will go on to Rule The World or at least The West End in the Abba musical mould, is beautifully written, perfectly cast and the songs are the ideal fit for the script.

With one big boyband belter after another and plentiful nods to the 90s, The Band creates a beautiful nostalgic portrait of a special era.

Unlike the previous unofficial take on the Take That story, this is one musical I’ll Never Forget.