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A CurtainUp London Review

by James Walters

For some unfathomable reason record company executives have decided that 1999 will be the y ear of pop. Almost on a weekly basis, new groups of young men and women as boybands and girlbands are being thrust upon the general public hailed as the new saviours of the British music industry. Their existence on the television and across the airwaves seems to be prompted by the ethos of making money, making more money and promoting designer casual-wear. Making music generally seems to come a relatively long way down the career choice checklist.

Boyband is the story of five such young men. With little more to rely on than half an ounce of talent and a manager whose previous acts have all been tremendous flops, Freedom , as they are known, prepare to take the charts by storm. The musical follows their rise to pop stardom as they go from playing schools and clubs to Wembley Stadium.

Taking inspiration from the story of now legendary British boyband TAKE THAT writer Peter Quilter has stumbled upon a marvellous formula. The whole spectacle is simply a pop concert interspersed with short scenes to add asemblance of storyline. Thankfully, the cast are seldom called upon to test their acting ability. They have been quite clearly chosen for their ability to dance, hold a tune and look good in tight pants.

It is for this reason that Boyband is surely destined to become a hit. For here on a London West End stage is a group of young men who for all intents and purposes could be just another of the latest 'teen sensations. There is no need, it would seem, for the audience to willingly suspend its disbelief . After witnessing the adulation they received from an ecstatic audience I'm sure the Freedom group could,, go on and make a very successful career for themselves independent of the show.

Whether intentional or not, Quilter has lifted the thin veil of credibility surrounding made to order music. He has exposed the overriding, undeniable truth -- put a group of attractive individuals into attractive clothing, make them sing infectious songs with no real musical merit, weave a web of celebrity around them, and the general public will hang on their every word.

Boyband is undoubtedly aimed at the teenage market but with endless encores and dancing in the aisles, anyone attending will find it difficult to leave without feeling exhilarated. Whatever your own feeling towards this musical genre, Boyband is destined to be hit.
By Peter Quilter
Directed by Peter Rowe With: Kevin Andrew, Tom Ashton, Daniel Crossley, Damien Flood, Stepps, Bryan Murray, Caroline Head, Kelly Morris, William Oxborrow, Hayley Tamaddon, Richard Taylor Woods
Set Designer: Andrew Leigh
Lighting Designer: Chris Ellis
Costume Designer: Kevin Knight
Sound Designer: Sebastian Frost
The Gielgud Theatre, Shaftesbury Avenue, London W1 Tel. 0171 494 5065
From May 27, 1999 Onwards
Reviewed by James Walters

©Copyright June 30, 1999, Elyse Sommer, CurtainUp.
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