VIVA interviews The Band’s Jayne Mckenna

Megan Chapman | 7th January 2019

Howard Donald, Gary Barlow, Mark Owen, Robbie Williams and The Band

The long-awaited Take That smash hit musical, ‘The Band’ is coming to The Lowry on January 16th.

The Band follows the lives of five lovestruck 16-year-old friends who dream of meeting their heroes. 25 years later the friends, all now in their 40s, try to once again try to meet the heroes of their childhood.

VIVA managed to catch up with one of the show’s stars Jayne McKenna (War Horse, Macbeth) who plays Zoe in the musical. We got to talk about all things The Band- including what it’s like to bring Take That’s iconic songs to life!

(Left to Right) Jayne McKenna as Zoe, Rachel Lumberg as Rachel, Emily Joyce as Heather & Alison Fitzjohn as Claire, with Five To Five as The Band

In your own words, what is The Band about?

Firstly I’ll tell you what it’s not about, it’s not about Take That. It’s a story of five young girls that are in love with the band. They go and see them in concert for the first time and have the most amazing night of their lives. Then something happens to them on the way home and they don’t see each other for 25 years.

You find out what has happened to them and things haven’t turned out exactly as they thought. It’s a beautiful script from Tim Firth and has the music of Take That although Take That are never mentioned in the show.

We’ve all been those girls, do you think that makes it more relevant for the audience?

Yes, I do. Gray Barlow talked about it [in the recent Take That documentary] being like holding a mirror up to their fans and I think that’s very true. A lot of the people we have in the audience, not everyone but a lot of the women and men, were fans of Take That or a band and it brings back all the memories of how you felt when you were young.

There’s a very poignant moment in the show where young meets old. I don’t want to give too much away but its a moment that I think resonates with a lot of people. Imagine being able to go back to your younger self. What would you say to them and what advice would you give them? Of course, none of us can ever do that so you live with what you’ve got and you live with the choices you’ve made.

(Left to Right) Lauren Jacobs, Katy Clayton, Rachelle Diedericks, Faye Christall, Sarah Kate Howarth

Is it scary portraying Take That’s songs since they are so iconic?

I think we all have a duty of care to it to make sure the story is told properly, the songs are sung well, that we perform it well but when you have that soundtrack behind you, and we have a live band on stage as well, it’s just phenomenal. It means that you are getting this energy and this spirit to be able to do it every night.

The way the show is configured you get the beautiful script from Tim Firth, which makes it a wonderful play and a story, but it’s also a musical because we sing and then we have out five fabulous boys who sing all the songs as well. So you’re almost getting a play and a gig in one night.

That’s exactly what you’re getting and we have lighting by Sir Patrick Woodroffe who lights Iron Maiden and The Rolling Stones. So you can imagine that not only are you getting this fabulous story of these girls and women but your also getting a proper gig with these wonderfully talented boys singing.

We’ve been doing it a long time now and my family came the other night and said it’s still as fresh as it was 420 shows ago.

How is it portraying one of Tim Firth’s amazing characters?

We are in a really fortunate position in that Tim almost originated the characters around us four ladies. He’d written them but we did a workshop in early 2017 and he would rewrite things and take things away. We’ve been there from the very beginning, we are the original cast.

So it’s a tremendous honour to have that responsibility. How many jobs are you offered in your career where a role is actually originated around you? It’s an absolute gift, it might never happen again.

How does it feel coming back to Manchester?

It’s wonderful -I’m thrilled to bits the first venue is in Manchester and we get to be there for two weeks! Having been in the west end, which is just like home to me, I would have found it hard to go on to anywhere else but Manchester because Manchester Is the home of Take That. It feels like we are bringing it home.

We know when we come back to Manchester the crowds will be fantastic, just as they were when we opened at the Opera house in September 2017. I remember [the last time they were in Manchester] looking out of the window and stage door was heaving, even when Take That wasn’t there.

There such a vibe in Manchester that when we play there it is just magical. It’s like nowhere else for us.

Manchester we are coming for you!

Why should people go and see the show?

Firstly you should come and see the show because it is fabulous and you are getting a play, a musical and a gig all in one.

It will remind you of who you were when you were young. It will remind you of the love you had for that band but it will also give you a fantastic night at the theatre. I guarantee you will be on your feet at the end.

Album 1

(Left to Right) Alison Fitzjohn as Claire, Emily Joyce as Heather, Jayne McKenna as Zoe and Rachel Lumberg as Rachel in The Band(Left to Right) centre Sarah Kate Howarth, Rachelle Diedericks, Faye Christall, Katy Clatyon & Lauren Jacobs with Five To FiveHoward Donald, Gary Barlow, Mark Owen, Robbie Williams and The Band(Left to right) Yazdan Qafouri, Curtis T Johns, Nick Carsberg, AJ Bentley and Sario Solomon(Left to Right) Jayne McKenna as Zoe, Rachel Lumberg as Rachel, Emily Joyce as Heather & Alison Fitzjohn as Claire, with Five To Five as The BandRachelle Diedericks as Debbie with Five To Five as The Band(Left to Right) Lauren Jacobs, Katy Clayton, Rachelle Diedericks, Faye Christall, Sarah Kate Howarth(Left to Right) Sario Solomon, Nick Carsberg, Curtis T Johns, Yazdan Qafouri and AJ Bentley(Left to Right) AJ Bentley, Curtis T Johns, Sario Solomon, Yazdan Qafouri and Nick Carsberg in The Band(Left to Right) Alison Fitzjohn as Claire, Rachel Lumberg as Rachel, Emily Joyce as Heather and Jayne McKenna as Zoe in The Band

The last showing at The Lowry will be on January 26th so make sure you get your tickets soon!

To buy tickets click here.

For more about The Band click here.