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Never Forget

Nicola Mostyn talks hot pants with the man playing the man playing Howard Donald as the Take That musical comes to town

Published on August 20th 2007.

Never Forget

Cue the screaming fans: the Take That musical has arrived in Manchester.

While rumours abound that the actual band have distanced themselves from this show, thirty-something women everywhere who didn’t get to see The Thatters in the flesh should find a more than adequate substitute in the five guys taking on the roles of Gary, Mark, Robbie, Howard and Jason – albeit under different names.

It’s not Chekhov. It’s a light family piece, just musical theatre at its best. A happy, enjoy yourself, have a good night out.

Eaton James plays Harry: “He’s a stripper and he’s a bit stupid. Later on, when he gets into the band, he represents Howard.”

The main plot of the show is a love story concerning the main character, Ash, (played by Dean Chisnall - Gary in the tribute band) whilst also following the five young, hopeful misfits desperate for a break in life. When they start out they’re not exactly boy-band material but that’s really the point: Never Forget hinges on that now-ubiquitous concept: the ‘journey.’

“At the end,” James explains, “when we actually go to the tribute band competition and perform ‘Relight My Fire’, that’s the culmination of the dream that we have worked towards. So some of us aren’t very good dancers at the beginning, some aren’t very good singers, but we grow and grow and that’s the moment where the audience can think - hopefully – they’re good.”

Before that it seems there was lots and lots of stripping off: “The first day I met the boys we did a photo shoot and we stripped down to our pants. I was like ‘oh, hello, pleased to meet you all…” And it seems it’s kit off onstage and off: “I’m on stage for five minutes and I’m down to my underpants,” James sighs. “I do a strip at the audition and then, when we do the ‘Relight My Fire’ bit, I’m in hotpants and a little tiny waistcoat. I’m hardly wearing anything in this show. I’ve just actually been in the gym now…. “

The script for the show was written by Manchester’s own Danny Brocklehurst, whose writing credits include the brilliant Clocking Off and Shameless. Should we expect something a bit different given that Brocklehurst’s writing isn’t exactly cheesy musical fare? “Its not normally, is it?” says James. “But…I don’t want to say that the show is really dark. I mean it’s not Chekhov. It’s a light family piece, just musical theatre at its best. A happy, enjoy yourself, have a good night out.”

So far the show has visited Cardiff and Glasgow and it comes as no surprise that the audience is, the actor reports, mostly filled with thirty-something women.

“I’m thinking they must have been fans when they were younger. There are blokes who come along, uncomfortable blokes who have been dragged along by their girlfriends. And there are kids in the audience too. But whether you are a Take That fan or not the show itself stands up, alone. It is entertaining whether you know the music or not.”

So, what’s the insider gossip on Take That’s real reaction to the musical? “All I know is that they’ve been invited to come and watch,” says James. “All along we’ve been saying that we are pro-Take That, we are not against them at all. We are trying to showcase their music and we, the boys, are all massive fans. At the end of the day, we’re not taking the mickey out of their music. We are actually doing the opposite; showing how fabulous and brilliant they were. They had such a big impact and this show is not going to affect their comeback because we’re not involving any of their new music – it’s all their back catalogue. I’m sure they’d love it if they came. They’d have a right laugh.”

So Eaton is a Take That fan? “I am, secretly. I never admitted it at the time because it probably wasn’t that cool in those days but now they are cooler than ever. Will I get sick of the music?” he laughs. “You’ll have to ask me in a year’s time.”

Never Forget. Opera House (Quay Street, City. 0870 401 6000www.ticketmaster.co.uk) From £9. 21 Aug 21 to 1 Sept.

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RachelAugust 20th 2007.

I saw Never Forget last night and after a very cheesy (nearly cringe worthy!)start I have to say it was really good! If you're going look out for the guy who plays Jason Orange - he is the most amazing dancer!Definitely worth a night out if you want to relive those 90's nights!

AnonymousAugust 20th 2007.

I have never been a Take That fan but I went to see the show last night and I must say it is a fantastic night out. It's lighthearted and humourous and of course it gets you dancing in the eisles at the end of the show.

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