The Band/Let It Shine review

Michelle Townsend

On Saturday the 25th of February, viewers of BBC talent show ‘Let It Shine’ saw boyband Five To Five be crowned the winners, with each member landing a lead role in Take That singer-songwriter Gary Barlow’s new musical, The Band.
Gary Barlow drew inspiration for Let It Shine from Andrew Lloyd Webber’s musical talent-search shows such as ‘How Do You Solve A Problem Like Maria?’, and ‘Somewhere Over The Rainbow’. The aim of the show was very clear: hopeful male auditionees were put through their paces by singing, dancing and working as part of a team in order to create a boy-band which would appeal to the judging panel and viewers at home. The first round of auditions were solo before auditionees were put in groups of eight for the next round, which was eventually whittled down to groups of five for the live shows. Each group also got the chance to perform with the likes of Kaiser Chiefs, Olly Murs, Mel C, Busted and Beverley Knight in order to showcase their performance skills and ability to gel as group.
The judging panel consisted of Gary Barlow, Dannii Minogue and Martin Kemp with guest judges including Amber Reilly, Lulu, Ricki Lake, Ashley Roberts and Peter Kay. With each judge drawing experience from different backgrounds, this enabled the panel to form five unique boy-bands – Neon Panda, Iron Sun, Drive, Nightfall and eventual aforementioned winners Five to Five – and give the viewers at home the opportunity to vote for their favourite band.
New musical The Band will start touring in theatres all over the U.K in September. There have been misconceptions as to what the musical will actually be about, with many people assuming it will focus on Take That’s career. However, this is not the case as Gary Barlow has revealed that the storyline will revolve around the lives of five young girls and their stories will be told through the music of Take That. Members of Five To Five AJ Bentley, Curtis T. Johns, Nick Carsberg, Sario Solomon and Yazdan Qafouri will, quite obviously, perform in the band, singing and dancing to a catalogue of Take That’s greatest hits as they will not have any spoken lines throughout the show.
Gary Barlow is no stranger to the world of musical theatre. He composed the music and wrote the lyrics for hit musical Finding Neverland, which is based on Peter Pan, a show which enjoyed 17 months on Broadway before embarking on a national tour of America in October 2016. More recently he wrote the musical The Girls alongside Tim Firth which opened up on the West End last month. The musical is based on the film Calendar Girls and won the award for Best Regional Production at the What’s On Stage Awards this year. What with these impressive achievements already under his belt, there is no reason that The Band will not able to reach the high standard set by Gary and enjoy massive success.


AJ Bentley
AJ is a 21 year old dancer from London. Success has not always come easy, as he failed to impress the judges on The X Factor two years ago. However, he won the judges over in his audition with a charismatic rendition of Stevie Wonder’s “Signed, Sealed, Delivered” and now faces a promising career in musical theatre.

Nick Carsberg
Nick is 17 years old making him the youngest member of the band. He works as an apprentice at EAB Classic Cars in Essex but has always found passion in performing. Nick has been a member of Scene II Theatre School since he was eight years old.

Curtis T. Johns
Curtis is a 23 year old songwriter from Leeds. He has previously written material for Matt Cardle, Kerri Watt and Ray Quinn. Curtis is managed by Matthew Rumbold who also manages Corrine Bailey Rae, who sings Girl Put Your Records On, the song which Curtis auditioned with in the first round.

Sario Solomon
19 year old Sario has plenty of experience when it comes to performing and is no stranger to the world of musical theatre. The performer made his West End debut when he was eleven in Oliver! and also starred in West Side Story with the National Youth Music Theatre.

Yazdan Qafouri
At 18 years old Yazdan is still a student, attending Yarm School in Great Ayton. The Band will be his professional debut as Yazdan has only performed in amateur theatre thus far.

Michelle Townsend