Showing posts sorted by date for query Rachel Lumberg. Sort by relevance Show all posts
Showing posts sorted by date for query Rachel Lumberg. Sort by relevance Show all posts

Friday 16 November 2018

The Band (UK Tour), Grand Opera House, Belfast | Review

The Band (UK Tour)
Grand Opera House, Belfast
Reviewed on Tuesday 13th November 2018 by Damien Murray

Take the story of 5 teenage boyband fans from 1993 

Take the women they turn out to be some 25 years later 

Take the boyband they adore 

… oh, and Take That – or at least a selection of their greatest hits – and you are getting close to some of the magical ingredients of this most enjoyable evening of musical theatre. 

Superbly directed by Kim Gavin and Jack Ryder, aided by a strong team of equally imaginative creatives (particularly Jon Bausor’s Design and Patrick Woodroffe’s Lighting Design), there is so much more to the success of this intriguing musical than one would imagine. 

Of course, it is not the first time that the music of one of the world’s most popular boybands has been brought to the theatrical stage, but this production demonstrates how it should be done. 

Cleverly written by Our House writer, Tim Firth, who again captures the mood and nuances of a particular community (this time, working class Northerners) in the same way that the great Willy Russell highlighted the highs and lows of a Liverpool family as they grew up in the classic musical, Blood Brothers, this show also uses comedy and tragedy to bring life’s dark and shade to us in an evening of emotional ups and downs. 

Rather than opting for the easier and more commonly used concert-format to give a platform for the popular music, this production is unique in that it is not a traditional jukebox musical, nor is it a tribute act to Take That, but rather an engaging and believable story-based show with many surprises about a group of female fans who grow older and grow apart, before reuniting, like their beloved boyband, many years later. 

Apart from some impressive production numbers of the type Take That are famous for and the perfect vocals and harmonies of ‘The Band’ themselves –AJ Bentley, Nick Carsberg, Curtis T Jones, Yazdan Qafouri and Sario Solomon– in re-workings of the well-loved hits, the key to the success here lies in the fact that the songs are all so cleverly integrated within the story without sounding overtly contrived. 

Musical director, John Donovan, and his, mostly hidden, on-stage 5-piece band of musicians is always sympathetic to the story, while providing solid support to the spot-on vocals of The Band and to its enthusiastic dancing as Kim Gavin’s energetic take on Take That’s choreography is brought to life, complete with iconic positioning and poses. 

As if the boys in The Band don’t work hard enough performing all 18 songs and their associated dance moves, they also have to deal with numerous quick changes and the playing of many extras throughout. 

Having always been known for respecting their fans, it is not surprising that this show is not about Take That (they are not even mentioned in the show), but – like a present to their loyal fans – they opted to make the show about a group of fans and the fun and friendship that ensued through the shared experience of fandom. 

We follow them from their hormone-filled teenage years (when they are played by Faye Christall, Katy Clayton, Rachelle Diedericks, Sarah Kate Howarth and Lauren Jacobs) to an unexpected reunion when they are all forty-something (and played by Rachel Lumberg, Alison Fitzjohn, Emily Joyce and Jayne McKenna). 

Providing universally great performances throughout, the members of this precious sisterhood reveal many stories, secrets and surprises … not least the fact that life did not turn out as expected for any of them. 

This is a clever plot as many Take That fans in the audience can readily identify with some of the circumstances, characters, problems and stories being portrayed on stage. 

In contrast to the complicated lives of the ladies, Martin Miller gives a nice understated performance of the simple life led by Jeff, while Andy Williams is outstanding in a series of comic cameos. 

While musical highlights include the moving rendition of A Million Love Songs, the production number, Greatest Day, and the poignant Back For Good, other songs like Could It Be Magic, Patience, Relight My Fire and Rule The World all stand out. 

This fast-paced production also provides some memorable moments like the Roman Chariot scene, the breakable statues in Prague, the aeroplane that becomes a giant glitter ball, the use of a large time-related teletext projection at the start, which progressed to a large digital billboard for the start of Act 2, and the Act 1 finale scene when the aeroplane takes-off over the audience with believable noise and wind effects for those in the front stalls. 

Overall, it is easy to see why this is such a great girlie night out for fans of Take That, but it is so much more for, even if you are neither female nor a fan, you will still enjoy this as it is essentially a great night out for anyone. 

This engaging, endearing and entertaining production may provide a night of harmonies, hormones and hilarity… but, more than anything, it has heart! 

The Band runs at the Grand Opera House until Sat 24 Nov, 2018

Photo credit: Matt Crockett

Wednesday 24 October 2018

The Band (UK Tour), New Wimbledon Theatre | Review

The Band (UK Tour)
New Wimbledon Theatre
Reviewed on Tuesday 23rd October 2018 by Olivia Mitchell 

Whether you're an avid fan of Take That, or you just know a few of the hit songs, get yourself along to The Band for a show full of friendship, laughs, emotion and nostalgia. The story is compelling and relatable to anyone who's ever hardcore admired a band, performer or celebrity.

The story opens with our main protagonist, Rachel, exclaiming how she grew up with 'The Band', and judging by the buzzing audience of the New Wimbledon Theatre, many of them did too.  From the get go, the show is well paced and bubbling with energy as we flash back to the group of five young friends as the fangirl over their boys. Their portrayal of head-over-heels fans is truthful, witty and exudes youth as the girls are as loyal to each other as they are to the band.

The Band themselves, reappear throughout to perform a number of Take That's greatest hits, both old and new. In the iconic outfits and with the classic moves, they really embody Take That and bring to life the spirit and energy of a band of friends who love performing with one another. They also do a wonderful job of propelling the story forward.

The show takes a sudden turn after the first couple of scenes when tragedy strikes and the tight-knit friend group are broken apart. Fast forward 25 years and we see the how the girls have settled into their various lives. The grown up Rachel, (played by Rachel Lumberg) seems to be living her dream life, but is unable to move on from the childhood tragedy that struck and she once again feels drawn to the band. Rachel plays the role with a beautiful balance and sense of realism; wonderfully showing off her exuberant side, alongside the side which is struggling with loss. 

As the friends reunite, the show really powers on and the story of each girl has something audience members can relate to. Act two includes a number of hilarious group scenes, accompanied by great musical performances. Despite the name, this show isn't about The Band, it's about the leading ladies who steal the show and our hearts with their sincere and charismatic performances. Whilst the girls always had The Band at the forefront of their lives, it was their friendships that glued them together and created a bond that even time apart, couldn't break.

The entire cast are superbly strong. The Boys, played by AJ Bentley, Curtis T Johns, Yazdan Qafouri, Nick Carsberg and Sario Solomon provide the perfect starring moments as well as backing moments where they blend in as a natural part of the story. The Girls, both young and old are perfectly cast to be highly realistic whilst giving fantastic performances.

Alongside the cast, Jon Bausor's set is a real star of the show; with screens cleverly transporting us to concerts and music videos. A particular stand out, set moment is when the blue confetti used earlier in the show is cleverly fanned out by The Band to create  The Flood over the audience. Small details like this, really step this show up from a simple musical, to something special.

The small cast do a fantastic job of creating a high-energy piece which feels full of love and life. From post-show audience reactions, it's clear that The Band has many fans and the show is sure to continue delighting audiences on tour and in it's upcoming stint at the Theatre Royal Haymarket. For a story that will have you beaming and tearing up like the roller coaster of life, accompanied by a thrilling score, get yourself along to The Band and live your best fangirl life.

Wednesday 11 July 2018

The Band (UK Tour), Edinburgh Playhouse | Review

The Band (UK Tour) 
London Palladium 
Reviewed on Tuesday 10th July 2018 by Fiona Wickerson

The story opens with the main protagonist proclaiming how she grew up with ‘The Band’ and judging by the enthusiastic cheers from the audience it seemed pretty clear that many of them did too! The opening few scenes are full of fun and pace, as we see the bubbling enthusiasm of a group of five best friends, obsessed with seeing The Band for the first time. The dialogue was witty and the actors charmingly recreated the energetic enthusiasm found only in 16 year-old teenagers. 

‘The Band’ themselves appear regularly, in true musical fashion, to perform all of Take That’s greatest hits. Wearing the classic outfits and performing the deliberatively overly-choreographed dance routines, they really captured the spirit of Take That in their heyday. 

In sharp contrast to the sweet enthusiasm of the first few scenes, tragedy strikes, and the friendship group breaks apart. The Band’s acoustic, haunting singing worked beautifully and the mournful scenes of transition were handled with tenderness and emotion. 

Fast forward twenty-five years and the once-girls have all settled into very different lives, in very different places. The older Rachel, (played by Rachel Lumberg) performs with wonderful realism, portraying the balance of a woman who has had a happy life, but has never been able to quite let go of the sadness that haunted her teenage years. As the friends come back together for the first time in twenty-five years, the show really starts to come into its own. Every member of the audience could find something in common with the forgotten dreams of youth and the paths you never thought you would walk down. 

Queue some very humorous scenes involving a water fountain and the audience were completely charmed by the four women. It seems a little ironic that in a musical called The Band, from which a TV series has sought out the five winning members, the five boys were actually in the background for the majority of the story. The leading ladies absolutely stole the show, quite rightly, with their brilliant comic timing, sincere emotion and charismatic stage presence. In fact, it really worked for the performance that the boys and the main characters never directly interacted with each other. ‘The Band’ were always a dream for the girls-now-women, and though very important to their lives, it was the friendships underneath that the women realise they should never have lost. 

With only 16 performers in the entire show, the cast did an excellent job of creating the on-stage energy normally only found in much larger cast productions. The quick costume changes and creative use of props made the stage feel full of life. The show was a sell-out and I have rarely seen an audience so engaged and invested in a show. The rip-roaring finale scene had the audience on their feet and the night ended on a real high – success!

The Band runs at the Edinburgh Playhouse until 14th July before continuing it's tour.

Tuesday 17 April 2018

The Band (UK Tour), Bristol Hippodrome | Review

The Band (UK Tour)
Bristol Hippodrome
Reviewed on Tuesday 17th April 2018 by Isobelle Desbrow 

The Band tells the story, as the name suggests, of a Band, but more importantly a group of friends who have been reunited after tragedy; by their love of said band. 

The first act of the story centres around a group of friends Rachel (Faye Christall), Heather (Katy Clayton), Claire (Sarah Kate Howarth), Debbie (Rachelle Diedericks) and Zoe (Lauren Jacobs) who’s love of The Band and a competition win from Debbie takes them to Manchester to watch their favourites live. After some tuneful singing and dancing we learn that tragedy strikes; this leads to a wonderfully worded tear jerking moment. They are all fabulous young actress who really hold the story together in the first act.

We move on to meeting the adult Rachel (Rachel Lumberg), Claire (Alison Fitzjohn), Heather (Emily Joyce) and Zoe (Jayne McKenna) who bring the first act to a real show-stopping end with their spectacular rendition of Shine. Their energy and passion is very enjoyable to watch and continues into the second act.

The Band are played by AJ Bentley, Nick Carsberg, Yazdan Qafouri Isfahani, Curtis T Johns and Sario Solomon. You can clearly see why they were chosen from the BBC series ‘Let It Shine’ as they all have exceptional voices and while not always at the forefront of the singing, they add a professional and clean backing track to all songs. 

A special mention I feel must go to the costume and set design team, as they somehow manage to create amazing scenes in a very short amount of time. Over both halves I counted no less than 15 costume changes, each telling a story of their own. As for set, being able to create a plane, or bus on stage so simply but with great effect was amazing to see. 

Going into the second act we follow older Rachel. 25yrs on from when we first met this group of girls. Rachel Lumberg is an exceptional actress and deserves a lot of praise for the emotion and brilliance she brings to the part and really does bring the second act together. 

The Band in the second act also really shine. During the first act they are mainly used as backing singers, however come act 2 they belt out some powerful and exceptionally sounding verses and choruses for some of Take That’s best know songs. They made the show a musical.

Overall the show was a success, if given the chance I would go and watch it again, as I felt the cast was exceptionally strong even when the story lacked motivation.

The Band runs at the Bristol Hippodrome until 21st April before continuing it's tour.

Photo credit: Matt Crockett

Thursday 12 April 2018

In Conversation With... Rachel Lumberg | The Band | Interview

Rachel Lumberg is an award winning actress who has been in a whole host of shows from The Full Monty to Romeo and Juliet. She's currently starring as Rachel in the UK tour of The Band. She sat down with me to discuss everything about the show! It's a fairly long but super interesting interview so grab a cuppa and settle down...

Have you always wanted to be a performer? Did you have any random childhood ambitions?

I did have random dreams- I wanted to be a nurse! You know so many of us had those dress up nurses outfits when we were little.

I also went into fashion at school when we took our options but it just didn't appeal to me. I'd always loved drama but didn't really know what area to be involved in. So I started the fashion course and it wasn't really working for me so I went to our head of year and said I'd like to do drama, and she let me change. So ever since then ( I would've been 14) I've been doing this.

It was actually the film-maker, John Hughes -who made the likes of Pretty in Pink and The Breakfast Club- who I was a huge fan of growing up- who got me very interested in film. Then when I changed to the drama option at school and we started going to the theatre a lot I discovered that this is my love.

Could you explain a little about The Band and how your character Rachel fits into it?
Rachel is the driving force in bringing the girls back together again. She is the protagonist of the story really. She opens the show with a memory.. She begins by telling the audience how she grew up with a boy band and then ‘Boom’ we’re immediately transported back to my bedroom, my younger self (played utterly superbly by Faye Christall) and the incredible tunes of a certain boy band of 1993. It’s a double denim feast for your eyes!! 

You then meet all of Rachel’s friends. Each as loyal to each other and to the band as the next one.. They get to see the boys ‘live in concert’ and then on the way home from the gig, tradgedy strikes which changes the girls’ lives dramatically.

Fast forward 25yrs and here we see Rachel again pretty much living the life she dreamt off... or is she? She hasn’t seen her school friends for over 25yrs.. yet she enters and wins a competition to go and see the boys live again on their reunion tour.. is this the time to maybe have a reunion of her own?? Well-you’ll have to come and see the show to find that out.. 

Tim Firth has written a beautiful story of friendship and the love and influences that come with that..add to that the stunning music of Take That and how could you not want to come and see it?  

What attracted you to show? Other than your name, are you and Rachel alike in any way?
I've known Tim [Firth] for a very long time, almost 10 years, as well as David [Pugh] and Dafydd [Rogers], this is my second show with all of them and they're absolutely wonderful.

Rachel and I are alike. Our producers David and Dafydd always said that she's called Rachel for a reason which is incredibly flattering. Rachel has comedy and is very caring and fiercely loyal. Simple things, the love of her family and friends and their happiness are of utmost importance to her.. so there are definitely similarities between her and myself. 

More so I think with lovely Faye [Christall] who plays 16 year old me; it's weird seeing someone play you! We spent a lot of time together watching each other and watching out for the little habits we all have to make sure it seems truthful that we're the same person.

My mum came to see the show on press night and she said "that is her, that's Rachel at that age"... It's quite frightening! So I think both Faye and I are quite similar to each other and to Rachel.

The show focusses on how music influences our lives. Which musicians have inspired you?
I'm a bit of an all-rounder really. I'm one of those people that if I like a song, I like it! I was a fan of Take That, I wasn't necessarily hardened but I was a fan of them. I'm a big fan of Duran Duran, and Spandau Ballet- they were more my era 'cause I'm a little bit older than Rachel.

My huge influence growing up was more 60s because of my mum and dad. It was the likes of Gerry and the Pacemakers, Fats Domino all of that kind of music that my parents had on in the background.

On my wall were actors mainly, not musicians. There was James Dean, of course; it was mainly theatre and film actors that influenced my teenage years. Then when I got older, and absolutely when Take That reformed, I really, really enjoyed their music and I went to see them before I was ever involved in this!

Besides yourself, which actor in the production is going to blow people away?
You know I think most people that come, leave thinking "I was not expecting that" so it's the show that blows people away. A lot of people of course, are expecting the story of Take That but it isn't that, and that is absolutely not what they wanted. This show is a thank you to their fans for 25 years of loyalty. They were trying to find a way to do that, they always wanted Tim [Firth] to do it and they managed to.

The boys are phenomenal. There's always been the "oh they got them off a telly show", but they absolutely blow you away. The young girls are phenomenal, the older women, you know, everybody stands out in this. 

It would be unfair to say one person because it's very much an ensemble piece and we all bring something incredibly special to the table. Lets also not forget our crew who are unbelievable in how they put the show together and we have a live band who are so unbelievable. So it's absolutely a team effort! The work and skill and talent of each cast, crew member, band member and creative departments blows me away.. This is an ensemble piece of theatre. It wouldn’t work without each other.

What have people been saying as they leave the theatre?
What we've found is: "wow","wasn't expecting that", "you've relived my youth for me", "I've laughed, I've cried, I've danced, I've clapped", "I want to see it again". I've never really been in a show where we've had people see it more than once. We've got people on their 14th and 15th time, it's incredible how they come back.

As an actor you play to your crowd but it's also important that the audience listen and I've found that they really listen with this show. You can absolutely hear the listening. Some theatres are a little bit rowdier than others, especially on a Friday and Saturday but it's one of those shows that people are coming out of and booking more tickets straight away. So that's a huge compliment to us. 

Also, the majority of the audience are in their forties because they grew up with Take That but they're bringing their children and their partners and their mums and dads so it's lovely. The other day there was a lady in the grand circle in her seventies who came out of her seat and she had her arms in the air like everybody else and that's exactly what it's about! Older women have also contacted us to say that we're telling their story, we didn't expect that and the contact we've had from them has been incredible and very heartwarming.

I would love to watch our show (with me in) to see and realise truly the effect it has.

If you had a magic wand, which show would you do next?
It would be one that I've already done and left actually, one of Tim's other shows and hopefully timing will let me do it again and that's This Is My FamilyI do still have many roles i’d love to play that remain un-ticked on my bucket list. Some I am now too old to play and therefore will have to remain on the list, and some I’m (surprisingly) still too young to play.. so I live in hope!! 

My casting bracket and skill set allows for  character roles and I adore these. Complex characters that come with comedy and pathos that an audience member can relate wholeheartedly to... more characters similar to Rachel in The Band, I suppose. But above all, I just want to continue to work at the what I simply adore doing, and that is being out there, on stage, for you guys, 8 shows a week, for as long as I can and as long as audiences want to see me... I truly love my job!

If you could travel back to any era, when would you go to and why?
ohhhhh interesting! I would go back... to the 40s and 50s. Mainly for the beautiful costumes! And the incredible music! There's a tv series called A Place to Call Home that's set in the 50s, it's so beautifully designed and the costumes and cars are so fabulous. I'm just like "yes please, I would like that!"

Finally, what’s your best piece of advice for aspiring performers?
Always put money away for tax! Always take a percentage of your salary each week and put it into an account you can't touch and then you won't be hit with anything you're not prepared for!

I wholly believe that if your heart says you want to do it then do it. It's not an easy career, I mean, for me to be in this envious position of having a role written with me in mind to play it, has taken 28 years, so I can only say to anyone: stick at it and always follow your dreams. If you don’t follow them, someone else will!!  

Keep at it, you'll get there; there might be different routes you have to take but don't ever take it personally. When you get a no, just move on, it's rarely personal. It's very rarely to do with your own skill and talent, it's just that you're not right.

But if you have a dream, follow it, do your best and put money aside for tax!

A massive thank you to Rachel for taking the time to do this interview. The Band is country touring round the country, tour dates and ticket information can be found here.

Interview by Editor, Olivia Mitchell

photo credit: Matt Crockett