Take That brought the house down when they joined the cast on stage in the Take That musical The Band the first time the show toured to Southampton’s Mayflower.
Now the show is back at the venue for the final dates (March 12-16) on a tour which will have lasted 18 months.
Emily Joyce, who has played Heather right from the start, has enjoyed every moment.
“Performing-wise we began in September 2017. That’s when we opened the show in Manchester, but the auditions were the previous year which is when I first grabbed hold of the script. The whole thing has been two or three years from start to finish.”
But quickly it was clear that they were on to something special: “When we first had the audience, we realised what a brilliant story we had and it suddenly became rather beautiful to tell it, and then of course, you have got the wonderful music. I really don’t think you can compare the show to anything else. It feels like it is breaking new ground. The songs don’t comment on the action. They don’t fit in specifically like ‘I had an experience when I was 12 and here is a song about it.’ It is not like that. It is a brilliant play and it is also a gig, and I just don’t think there is anything else like it.”
In the show, it’s 1992 and we meet five 16-year-old girls for whom ‘the band’ is everything. What follows is an emotional rollercoaster as the group of girls who were once inseparable reunite after 25 years apart and try once more to fulfil their dream of meeting the boy band whose music became the soundtrack to their lives.
The show features the music of Take That, Britain’s most successful boyband of all time, with songs including Never Forget, Back for Good, A Million Love Songs, Greatest Day, The Flood, Relight My Fire, Shine and Rule the World.
“The story has obviously stayed pretty much the same from the start, but what has happened is that we have all grown in confidence, and the relationships on stage have developed. We all know each other’s rhythms so well now, but we still know that each night is going to be a bit of a surprise. We take a lot of energy from the audience. They are hugely important to us, and it can be so different every night, but I have never worked with a group of actresses in whom I have got so much trust and confidence… it is just like we take a lovely freefall into the show every night, within the parameters of the show, obviously!
“The story is about this group of girls that are joined together by their love of this band, and they win tickets to go and see them one night. They bunk off school and go to see the band in Manchester and have the most amazing night. Heather, the character, I play is a bit gobby, a bit loud-mothed, very confident with the boys, hugely into fashion at that age… but then something happens that night. They experience a trauma…
“They meet up again 25 years later. They made a pact when they were 16 that they would never lose touch. But they have all changed, as we do… But what is amazing is that the characters are all real women, all completely-believable characters. There is something about them all that is so real and true.”
Emily is best known to audiences for her role as Janet in all seven series of BBC1's hugely popular My Hero.
Further TV credits include Crown Court (ITV), Friday Night Dinner (Channel 4), Vera (ITV), Eastenders (BBC), Agatha Raisin (Sky), The Assets (ABC), Midsomer Murders (ITV), New Tricks (BBC), Casualty (BBC), Lewis (ITV), Mutual Friends (ITV), Lapland, Waterloo Road, Holby City, My Almost Famous Family, Silent Witness, Messiah II (all BBC) & Cracker (ITV).
Theatre credits include The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time (Gielgud Theatre), Donny's Brain (Hampstead Theatre), Happy Now (National Theatre), Yes Prime Minister (Chichester Festival Theatre & Gielgud Theatre), A Midsummer Night's Dream (Headlong), Twelfth Night (RSC), Romeo & Juliet (RSC), A Christmas Carol (RSC), The Eleventh Capital (Royal Court) & Stoning Mary (Royal Court).
Feature film work includes Universal Soldier: Regeneration, National Treasure 2 and The Woodlanders.