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A CurtainUp London London Review
Never Forget

by Dionne Glennon

What's more manly than being in a boy band.— Jake Turner
Never Forget
Some of the Never Forget Company
(Photo: Tristram Kenton)
The new musical written by Danny Broklehurst, Guy Jones and Ed Curtis features the songs of 1990s Boy Band from Manchester Take That which launched the later solo singing careers of Robbie Williams and Gary Barlow. Featuring classic Take That songs "It Only Takes a Minute", "Back for Good", "A Million Love Songs" and "Relight my Fire", the show has an energetic and sexy vibe to its dance routines which will appeal to both a male and female audience. The musical has just arrived at the Savoy Theatre after a nationwide tour.

The story is about Ash Sherwood (Dean Chisnall) who along with his best mate Jake Turner (Craige Els) enters a local competition to become part of a Take That tribute band and to ultimately win £10,000 in prize money. Ash has set his sights on winning in order to help his mother (Marilyn Cutts), keep her pub and their home from the bailiffs. Encouraged to audition by his fiancée Chloe (Sophia Ragavelas), Jake's sister , he succeeds. and is cast as "Gary Barlow" by the manager Ron Freeman (Teddy Kempner).

Jake, with his cheeky comedian role and his desire to do something better with his life is also successful in the audition and is elevated in status to the role of "Robbie Williams. ". To complete the Take That Tribute line up there's a shy and downtrodden office bank manger, Adrian Banks (Tim Driesen) who auditions in an attempt to impress his cheating wife. He wins the part of "Mark Owen.".

Fourth in the tribute line up is Jose (Stephane Anelli) , a flamboyant Spaniard who has come to England to make something of himself away from his overbearing mother. He is cast as "Jason Orange. ". Finally, there's Harry (Eaton James), a not so bright male stripper who's looking to escape from the stripping scene. He possesses an essential set of toned abs for "Howard Donald" of the tribute band.

A bond between the guys evolves during their rehearsals for the tribute band performances and dance routines. As the story unfolds alongside popular Take That songs and success beckons the band members' loves and loyalties are put to the test.

Chloe gives an outstanding performance of "Relight My Fire" which would rival that of Lulu, and the seductive villainess of the show, Annie (Joanne Farell), makes the heterosexual men in the audience go weak at the knees during her performance of "Once You've Tasted Love".

Near polished, energetic dance routines complement the excellent vocals and the costumes look authentic. Although predictable, the storyline does integrate the songs seamlessly throughout and a band situated high at the back of the stage provide perfect live accompaniment. The background set is that of the Manchester city skyline – although it could have been any town or city as the performances overall lack a distinct Mancunian accent and humour for which the Northern city is well known. However, the "Back for Good" performance replicates Manchester's rainy weather perfectly with real rain onstage - as well as the "Never Forget" video - and is fantastic and mesmerising to watch as the first act finale.

The medley of songs at the end of the show will undoubtedly have you singing and dancing in your seat and for a moment you could possibly believe you were at a Take That concert itself. Although the storyline and performances are at times a little cheesy, it is light hearted and fun, and doesn't take itself too seriously. Never Forget will be unable to rival other musical shows composed of the songs of Queen or Abba, but it does make a fun and enjoyable night out for a group of friends, ultimately appealing more to a female audience.

Never Forget
Written by Danny Brocklehurst, Guy Jones and Ed Curtis
Directed by Ed Curtis

With: Dean Chisnall, Craige Els, Tim Driesen, Eaton James, Stephane Anelli, Sophia Ragavelas, Joanne Farrell, Teddy Kempner, Marilyn Cutts, Adam C Booth, Nikki Davis-Jones, Mike Denman, Nia Fisher, David Flynn, Ivan de Freitas, Jamie Hughes-Ward, Lynne Jenkinson, Scott Maurice, Nikki Mullins, Elliot Nixon, Ashley Nottingham, David O’Dell, Amber Rimmell, Natalie Somerville, Leigh-Anne Stone, Amy Thornton, Tamara Wall
Set Design: Bob Bailey
Costume Design: Christopher Woods
Musical Director: Matt Smith
Choreographer: Karen Bruce
Musical Supervisor: Mike Dixon
Orchestrations and Arrangements: Chris Egan
Lighting: James Whiteside
Sound: Richard Brooker
Running time: Two hours 30 minutes with one interval
Box Office: 0870 164 8787
Booking to 25th October 2008
Reviewed by Dionne Glennon based on 23rd May 2008 performance at The Savoy Theatre Savoy Place, London WC1 (Rail/Tube: Charing Cross)
Musical Numbers
Act One
  • Could It Be Magic
  • Pray: The Auditions
  • Pray: The Rehearsal
  • Never Forget
  • Take That and Party
  • Babe
  • It Only Takes A Minute
  • Do What You Like
  • Back for Good
Act Two
  • I Found Heaven
  • Every Guy
  • Once You’ve Tasted Love
  • Love Ain’t Here Anymore
  • Never Forget
  • Relight My Fire
  • A Million Love Songs
  • Never Forget
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