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Take That's Gary, Howard and Mark on The Band musical as it gets set to open in Dartford

As Take That's hit musical The Band prepares for its extra dates in Kent, we talk to Gary, Howard and Mark about the show, friendship and memories.

Gary Barlow, Mark Owen and Howard Donald don’t mind admitting that right now they are extremely proud producers.

Joined by Robbie Williams, and along with David Pugh and Dafydd Rogers - two of the most experienced and well-regarded theatrical producers in the land - the Take That boys are at the helm of a musical that’s proved so popular, its run had to be extended - including its dates at the Orchard theatre next week.

Howard Donald, Gary Barlow, Mark Owen and Robbie Williams from Take That Picture: Jay Brooks
Howard Donald, Gary Barlow, Mark Owen and Robbie Williams from Take That Picture: Jay Brooks

“The key to its success is familiarity,” says Howard. “It strikes a chord with people’s lives by being a reflection for anyone who has ever been a fan or a supporter, or anyone who has had a group of friends and known love, friendship and loss.

“The only let down is that the music is rubbish,” he jokes - referring to the Take That hits that provide the soundtrack.

“Sometimes I feel a bit guilty for the young guys who won the competition [the five boys who won TV’s Let it Shine search for the musical’s title roles] because I don’t think they knew just how much work was involved. But I guess it’s a dream for them and I am made up for them, too,” adds Mark.

The show is not about Take That, however, but about “the band” which a group of 16-year-old friends follow in 1992, and 25 years on, still want to meet.

Take That's Howard Donald, Gary Barlow, Mark Owen and Robbie Williams
Take That's Howard Donald, Gary Barlow, Mark Owen and Robbie Williams

Gary says: “I think that friendship really resonates with people. Even the idea of the friendship – if you sat us down then we’d all say that friendship is what is at the heart of Take That.

“It has kept our work strong; we’ve been a gang. The Band is about the relationships really, not the music.”

As for mentoring the phenomenally talented lads who collectively play the title role - which includes AJ Bentley from Hythe, alongside Nick Carsberg, Curtis T Johns, Yazdan Qafouri and Sario Solomon, collectively known as Five To Five, - Howard confesses that as well as enjoying being a guru to them, it’s not a role he ever imagined being in.

“I was on a YTS training scheme to be a vehicle painter and panel beater when I joined Take That, but luckily we had the right people behind us. The lads [of The Band] are really down to earth, which is how we formed our friendship, how we grew up as a group and how we can now regroup. Who knows - maybe Jason will come back one day? We’re not looking at it like that, but that we have all matured and stayed mates means that there is always possibility.”

Read our review of the show at the Orchard Theatre here.

Five To Five are The Band Picture: Matt Crockett
Five To Five are The Band Picture: Matt Crockett

The show sees the older women looking back at their younger selves and so what advice, with the benefit of hindsight, would they give themselves if they could at 16?

Gary says: “I’d say grab it and enjoy this moment right now. It sounds so corny but this young cast are at such an amazing time in their lives, but they may have some tough years ahead.

“It’s so important to enjoy the here and now.”

So, as the demand is clearly there, will there be a second tour for The Band? Gary says: “By no means have we reached our goal.”


The Band opened in September 2017 and is the story of what it’s like to grow up with a boyband. The girls reunite 25 years on from their first stint as fans, to try once more to fulfil their dream of meeting their heroes. It stars Five to Five, chosen from the BBC's talent contest Let It Shine. Directed by Kim Gavin and Jack Ryder, and choreographed by Kim Gavin, the show’s extended tour ends in March - but could be back.

The Band will be at the Orchard Theatre in Dartford from Tuesday, February 5 to Saturday, February 9. To book tickets from £22.50, visit orchardtheatre.co.uk or call 01322 220000.

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