Stage star Rachel Lumberg will make a sentimental return to North Wales this autumn when hit musical The Band comes to Venue Cymru.
The show is the fastest selling musical theatre tour of all time, features the music of Take That.
It is set across the last 25 years, charting the lives of five 16-year-old girls united by their obsession with their favourite boyband and their desire to meet their heroes.
It stars Five to Five, the band who won BBC’s Let it Shine and is on tour across the UK throughout 2018 following its opening at Manchester Opera House.
“It’s a great tour to be on,” enthuses Rachel, who grew up in Connah’s Quay. “We knew it would be popular, but we’ve all been surprised that it’s standing on its own and isn’t just all about Take That.
“Reviews have been terrifiic so we’re thrilled. We can’t believe our luck!”
Call it luck if you like but Rachel seemed destined to grab a part in The Band from the moment it was conceived with her character even sharing her name.
The show is her third production with writer Tim Firth and producers David Pugh and Dafydd Rogers after she worked with them on Calendar Girls, The Full Monty for which she won the Broadway World and West End Theatre Award for Best Featured Actress in a New Play, and the award-winning This Is My Family.
“They’ve always said she’s called Rachel for a reason and it was written with me in mind,” says the 45-year-old. “I was involved before we even started searching for the boy in the band and, even if that’s not true, they found a wonderful way of flattering me!
“I’ll never know if that’s true but I’m just flattered they’ve trusted me with this role. It’s a thrill as Rachel is a beautiful part.”
Anyone who grew up with a boy-band and knows how songs can become the soundtrack to their life will find much to enjoy in The Band’s story of a group of female fans as they face the trials of life and love. It was a tale Rachel could easily relate to.
“I was 21 in 1993 when Take That first came out so I was more in the era of Duran Duran and Spandau Ballet. I became more of a fan when they reinvented themselves years later after the split – and it was then that I really followed them,” says Rachel.
“But when you’re 16, bands are so influential. When they bring out a song you’re convinced that they know what’s going in your life.”
Rachel’s most recent credits include playing the nurse in Romeo and Juliet at Sheffield Crucible for which, again, she was nominated and won the Broadway World and West End theatre award for Best featured actress in a new production while her TV credits include A Touch of Frost, The Bill and Casualty.
“We had a terrific drama teacher who really got me into acting,” says the former Ysgol Maes Garmon pupil.
“I got to do some terrific shows at Theatr Clwyd which gave me one hell of an introduction. It covered everything front stage and backstage and it was a phenomenal place when I was a teenager.
She went on to attend theatre school with the likes of Daniel Craig, Dominic West, Ewan McGregor and Joseph Finnes (“It pains me that they’re all men!” she laughs) but is relishing a return to her homeland when The Band calls into Lalndudno’s Venue Cymru for a 12 day run from November 14-25.
“My mum is a regular Leader reader and we all love it in our house,” she says. “I’m a Quay girl through and through and it will always be home even though I have a house in London.
“My sister still speaks Welsh to me and makes sure I don’t lose it. I might not be as fluent as I was but I love speaking it.”
With shows selling out across the country, I finish by asking Rachel why she thinks The Band and Take That’s music seems to strike such a chord in women of a certain age?
“What we’re finding with the audience demographic is that when the lights go up, 90% of the audience are my age and it feels like we’re representing a lot of the women who are out there,” she adds.
“Seven of my oldest school friends came and it was a great experience knowing they were out front effectively watching our story.
“It made me think that if one person comes to this show and then gives someone they haven’t seen for a very long time a call, my work is done.”