Musical star Rachel Takes That all in her stride

Rachel Lumberg as Rachel and Martin Miller as Jeff in The Band
Rachel Lumberg as Rachel and Martin Miller as Jeff in The Band

Nothing much fazes actress Rachel Lumberg – not even being seen in a dressing room in her bra by two members of Take That!

The star of Take That-inspired musical The Band seemed most bothered by the fact that she wasn’t wearing glamorous lingerie but in the plain sports-type bra that goes under her costume when Gary Barlow and Mark Howard came into the women’s dressing room after a show.

Rachel has just returned to the second tour of the show after everyone had a summer break and then they were straight back on the road.

The show, written by Calendar Girls author Tim Firth, follows the story of a group of four friends in the 1990s who are all obsessed with a band. They play truant from school to see their idols and have a great time – then something terrible happens. 

That causes their friendship to fall apart but then a chance to see their heroes 25 years later brings them back together again.

Rachel plays the older version of one friend, also Rachel. She said: “Faye Christall, who plays the 16-year-old Rachel, has the most incredible energy I’ve ever seen in my life. 

“I didn’t think I had that much when I was 16 but my mum, who’s been to see the show, said, ‘it’s you!’ She is this incredible pocket rocket of energy.”

Although the show was created in conjunction with Take That and has their songs sung by the winners of TV’s Let It Shine show, Rachel said its appeal is far wider than that.

“It takes you back to a group of 16-year-old friends, when there was a band we felt told the story of our lives. We were convinced their songs were completely about what was going on in our lives. How did they know?!

“We were convinced they were going to marry us.

“We’ve all had dreams, hopes and aspirations at 16 and bunked off school. We’ve all done it.”

The Band is at Sheffield Lyceum until Saturday, October 20. Bookings: www.sheffieldtheatres.co.uk

She added: “It’s also about what’s occurred in those 25 years that makes you the woman you are today, and how that completely resembles the women out there watching.”

Rachel said that Tim Firth was careful never to mention Take That in the script, always ‘the band’ or ‘the boys’, so that the show had a wider appeal beyond their fans.

She has worked extensively with Tim Firth, appearing in his two runs of musical This Is My Family at the Crucible Studio and Lyceum, as well as the Calendar Girls play.

She was amazed when he told her that it wasn’t an accident that her character’s name was Rachel, it was written with her in mind.

“It's humbling to think that somebody has thought of you when they’ve written something. Tim Firth’s writing is sublime.

“It’s incredible when you come across a writer that gets women. This show is about women, friendship and bonding.”

It’s a format that’s proved hugely popular. The show is going into the West End soon and will be at the Theatre Royal, Haymarket for Christmas.

Rachel said Take That members Gary Barlow, Howard Donald, Mark Owen and Robbie Williams, who are producing the show, have been very supportive.

“Mark will stand in the wings for Let it Shine. We can see him watching us. He’s loving every minute of it.

“It must be incredible for them to say, ‘Oh my God, that’s my work’.”