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I would have loved to have been able to have gone to see Take That live on tour but unfortunately the cost of the tickets was a bit too much. They are definitely my favourite group and I pretty much love all their songs both from now and from before the split. This is why when I spotted this DVD at play.com, I thought that I would probably enjoy it very much and I definitely did. The DVD is 'Never Forget' and it is a musical based on the music of Take That. Beyond that information I knew nothing else about it and did not know what to expect but I did feel that anything featuring Take That's hits would have to be good and I was not wrong!
I was quite surprised when I realised that this is actually a film of a live performance at the Manchester Opera House and you watch it all as if you were actually in the theatre. There is no editing between scenes although obviously many cameras were used so you do get to view from different angles and do get much better close up views than you would have got seated in the audience. This is good in many ways, but, as this was a live performance, you do get close ups of a lot of sweat!
I was not sure what to expect from the actual story. Obviously it was likely to be a bit contrived in order to fit in many of the Take That hits, but surprisingly I found the story very good and quite clever too. The two main characters are Ash and Chloe. At the start he is found proposing to her whilst singing 'Could it be Magic?' She accepts much to the joy of all their friends and family and particularly Chloe's brother Jake. However times are a bit hard so both men are attracted to a poster advertising auditions for a Take That tribute band. They go along and are successfully cast as Gary Barlow and Robbie Williams. They are soon joined by Adrian (mark Owen), Dirty Harry (Howard) and Jose (Jason). Each has a bit of a story to tell as to why they are there but for all of them it is hugely important to make it work.
It looks like they are going to be quite successful until Ash gets singled out for special attention and his loyalties are sorely tested which does not go down well with Chloe. Will the lure of celebrity and all it brings with it be too much for him? That is what we find out as the musical progresses.
The story works very well and I thought it was very clever that it was all about forming a tribute band which made it very easy to fit in a lot of the Take That hits. There were a couple of scenes that did not seem to quite fit in and one with quite strong sexual inferences. As I was watching with muy six year old daughter, it felt a little uncomfortable but to be honest, that bit went entirely over her head and pretty much everything else was very suitable for her viewing. She enjoyed watching it as much as I did.
I did not recognise any of the actors in the show but that did not matter at all as they all played their parts really well. There were also some quite uncanny likenesses between some of the actors and their Take That counterparts. Dean Chisnall who played Ash and Craig Els who played Jakes were probably my favourites and Dean's singing voice was fantastic.
Although at the beginning I found the script a bit cheesy and the characters somewhat two dimensional, I soon got into it and really enjoyed watching the whole show. It is very lively, with fantastic dancing and of course, if you are a Take that fan, excellent music. It starts with 'Could it be Magic?' and some of my other favourites that are also featured are 'Pray'. 'It only takes a minute', 'Back for Good', the amazing 'Million Love Songs' and of course, 'Never Forget'. Each half of the show builds up to a fantastic finale and right at the end there is an extended curtain call featuring so many of the songs that I really love. In fact, I can't think of any of their old hits that were not included somewhere in the show.
Overall I really loved watching this on DVD. I wasn't sure how successful it was going to be watching the theatre production but it worked really well. I found myself singing along to most of the songs and Rachel was dancing around the living room - we had great fun! It's definitely A DVD we shall want to watch more than once, but to be honest, it has really made me want to go and watch the live show too. And as I have had a quick look at the 2009 tour dates and spotted a few dates in Oxford (which looks to be my nearest venue) I might just be lucky enough to get some tickets. It won't be quite as good as actually seeing Take That in concert, but it just might be the next best thing!
The DVD is available on Amazon for £8.08.
What do you expect from a musical made from the greatest hits of Take That's early career?!?
None of the energy, charm or campness from the early videos, songs or the band themselves has been lost, and this musical perfectly captures what the Mancunian boyband meant to Britain in the Nineties and how desperate we all were to have them back.
The story itself, writen by Danny Brockelehurst of Shameless fame, centres on five young lads who all audition to be in a Take That tribute band, and each of which is escaping from or aspiring to something in their lives. The main focus is on Ash, a hopeful musician who never had the cut throat ambition to make it big himself, who has just proposed to his long time sweetheart. His mother's pub is about to close down, and this one time dreamer looks to start fighting for everything he has. But could (relative) fame, ambition and temptation ruin the party once they all taste (relative) success??
The musical benefits from a lack of complications; the story is so transparently simple that the songs slide in without the awkward crowbarring that is seen in other adaptation of pop music for the stage. When the characters all audition they sing a Take That song, when they have their first gig they sing a Take That song. But it is this decision to let the absolute quality of the songs make the biggest statement that makes this musical such a fun, enjoyable and engaging night of entertainment.
It doesn't take itself too seriously, and the sheer Mancunian cheek of copying certain moves or scenes from the bands own video displays an affection for the music and a modesty by the writers. All the classics (and they are classics in anyone's book) are there; Never Forget, Could It Be Magic, Pray, A Million Love Songs, Relight My Fire, and the performances are fantastic in their own right, giving a new and vibrant life to these brilliant songs.
The DVD (filmed just before Take That filled their own vacuum on their well deserved sell out tour) is electric with whooping, singing crowds that fuel the actors incredible performances.
If you are reading this review because there is an ounce of curiousity about this musical then buy it. You will smile, you will sing, you will turn it up so loud that it will wake the neighbours, and then they will smile, and they will sing, because this is what Take That, the Nineties and Britain is all about.