Blog:
Alison Fitzjohn

The musical theatre actor (pictured right) was about to give up on her ambitions before being cast in Take That musical The Band

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Do you believe in dreams coming true, in wishes being granted and aspirations being fulfilled? Being 37 I had got to a stage where deep down I thought I had missed the boat with being cast in a musical. I believed the moment of realising my childhood dream had passed me by.

Although I was happy with the way my career was panning out I was having a particularly tough few years. I was as low as I believe I could be. Something had to change. It had to. So I made the decision to step away from the theatrical companies I knew. It was a hard decision because of my love for them but the few previous years had left me feeling fragile and vulnerable.

And this is where it all turns a bit serendipitous. Looking back, it all feels like things were meant to be. I remember my nan telling me about how we need the experiences in life to further our journey and help us get to where we need to go. So imagine my amazement when I receive a call from my agent saying casting director Marc Frankum has rung regarding your availability for the new Take That musical – The Band.

What??????? Take That!!! ARGHHHHH!

I was immediately transported back to being a teenager sat in my bedroom with the Take That sticker book. Watching Howard’s dreadlocks, Mark’s fashionable curtains, Robbie’s cheeky grin. Spending nights dreaming what it would be like to have a conversation with them. What it would be like to meet them. I never got to see them in concert when I was younger due to finance but my heart and love was with them every step of the way. I remember heavy panting and lovingly dreaming when me and my friend Elinor chatted about them. Ha ha!

Then the availability check turned into an audition where I walked into a room full of creative giants! David Pugh, Tim Firth, Kim Gavin, Jack Ryder. It felt like a dream. I still didn’t think I had a chance of getting the job. My fragile state of the previous years had left my self-belief rock bottom. I sang Piece of my Heart by Janis Joplin and had to read a scene from the show where I would play a character called Claire. Immediately I felt a connection with this beautifully written character. I guess through my own personal feelings at the time I just understood her. I enjoyed the audition and was pleased with how it went but thought this musical is so huge, Take That are so huge.

The very next day I was invited to participate in the launch workshops in Manchester. There were tears of disbelief, pure happiness and gratitude. I remember jumping around my living room. Even if I wasn’t going to be cast in the show a three-week workshop singing and dancing would just be utter joy. And it was. I loved every second. The experience was fantastic. And I met Gary, Howard and Mark, who are so supportive, lovely and just as excited as I am about the show!

I was then offered the role – writing those words is madness to me. From feeling so low to flying so high. The experience is so overwhelming, so humbling. The show is so much more than what I thought it would be. It’s fulfilling me in a way I could never imagine. The people I am working with are so talented, so generous and supportive. But what surprised me is the profound effect the show would have on the audience. Yes, it’s a fantastic night out, singing, dancing, laughing and crying but the characters seem to resonate with audience members on a special level. I couldn’t love this show more because of that. How wonderful that a piece of musical theatre is speaking to people in that way and how amazing that I am lucky enough to be part of that.

So, this girl’s dream has come true. And I get to live it for another year in some amazing places and theatres in the UK. I’m so excited as it is becoming the fastest selling musical tour of all time so I’m sure it’s going to be a year I’ll Never Forget!

The Band is at Manchester Opera House until 30 Sept, then touring until summer 2018, including venues in Sheffield, Bradford, Stoke-On-Trent, Liverpool, Hull and Leeds in the north

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