Gary Barlow - A Different Stage

Gary Barlow – A Different Stage Reviews at the Duke of York’s Theatre ★★★★

A reviews round-up of Gary Barlow’s West End run of Gary Barlow – A Different Stage at the Duke of York Theatre.

Gary Barlow’s one man show A Different Stage has opened at the Duke of York’s Theatre, running until 25 September 2022.

A Different Stage, which Gary Barlow created with his long-time friend and collaborator, Tim Firth, is an intimate evening with Gary, as he recounts his life story.

Gary has already played the show in places including Frodsham, York, Salford, Liverpool and Edinburgh, and following his West End dates, he takes the show to Cornwall, Salford, Newcastle, Aylesbury, Dublin, Southend, Portsmouth, and Nottingham.

A Different Stage is directed by Tim Firth, with design by Es Devlin, lighting by Bruno Poet and sound design by Gareth Tucker.

A Different Stage runs from 30 August 2022 until 25 September 2022 at the Duke of York’s Theatre, London.

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Average Critics Rating

Gary Barlow - A Different Stage reviews

The Times

"Tales from the boy-band boy scout"

"Barlow is an energetic and engaging storyteller, but you won’t mistake A Different Stage for anything off-the-cuff. He tells a couple of funny stories about disastrous gigs — one of which all but kills off his American career in a trice — that reinforced his desire to avoid sloppiness at all costs. He is the boy-band boy scout: always prepared."

"Take That fans will find much to love here. Neutrals like me may find themselves feeling kept at arm’s length. Tim Firth’s lively production, designed by Es Devlin, keeps its man on a short rein: he’s peppy, sometimes knowingly naff, addresses some true trials in his life, yet never entirely leaves Mr Showbiz mode. It’s an entertaining, sometimes amusing, sometimes moving, yet slightly too stage-managed evening of self-revelation."

Dominic Maxwell, The Times
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"Gary Barlow’s cheesy but charming one-man show will win you over"

"Gary Barlow makes his West End debut with new one-man show A Different Stage, a honest, cheesy and ever so slightly naff effort that will bowl you over with its charm nonetheless."

"The intimate setting of one of the capital’s smaller theatres works well with Barlow’s easygoing presence and the stripped back staging of his solo effort, which sees the star surrounded by stacks of touring cases which house his props."

"A Different Stage offers nothing mind-blowingly original other than Barlow himself, whose effortlessly engaging persona can sell the hell out of pretty much anything – yes, fans will be most satisfied by the show, but even the most hard-hearted will find it hard to resist cracking a smile or humming along at points. And yes, all the hits are there, plus a few more treats thrown in as well."

Tori Brazier, Metro
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Daily Mail

"Soppy, sappy... but Barlow still shines like a superstar"

"I first saw the show in the community centre of Gary's home town of Frodsham, Cheshire, back in June. And while it's lost some of the intimacy and intensity, performed as it was in front of a handful of people who watched their local hero grow up, it retains all of Barlow's boyish vulnerability and dreamy vocals."

"It's like listening to a special edition of Desert Island Discs . . . introduced by the man himself, with snatches of his own music. Barlow's great gift is to be one of us. Standing on stage in a striped tracksuit, he looks like the PE teacher you wish you'd had at school."

"I have just two quibbles. One: that the song-to-chat ratio isn't higher. I prefer Barlow's singing to Firth's gags. And two: the fact that the first half ends on a downer. I like a twist of hope with my interval martini."

Patrick Marmion, Daily Mail
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The Stage

"Barlow's star quality shines when he sings"

"Gary Barlow’s autobiographical show is engaging enough but sadly lacking in songs"

"While Barlow is a natural entertainer, it would take a far greater acting talent than his to make this script seem fresh and spontaneous. It wallows awkwardly in nostalgia for much of the first half and the self-deprecating humour wears thin at times. The show succeeds when Barlow speaks honestly about his relationship with fellow band members..."

"The main issue with the show isn’t so much the script as the notable lack of songs."

Paul Vale, The Stage
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The Guardian

"Could it be magic? No!"

"This one-man, one-note show is a blandly sanitised history of Take That. While it won’t thrill you with its drama, its slightly smug star does have one hell of a voice"

"His singing is still properly powerful – authentic, emotional and intriguingly enigmatic – and it’s a thrill to experience it at such close quarters. If only this one-man show had explored the places that Barlow’s music takes him. Instead, this is effectively a shrunken pop concert turned inside out, with the stage patter stretched to breaking point and the songs stripped right back. Could it be magic? No."

Miriam Gillinson, The Guardian
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The Telegraph

"Gary Barlow reveals his darkest secrets – via a cheery singalong"

"In his new show, A Different Stage, the ex-Take That man plumbed his personal lows and sang his way through his musical highs"

"Barlow doesn’t often do unrehearsed... it was a tightly-drilled production, delivered with almost metronomic timing. While the “boring one in Take That” label is a tad cruel, he remains a man who clearly spends a lot of time on his homework."

"It all adds up to a show that’s by turns funny, self-effacing, sad, triumphant, tragic and warm."

Nick Ruskell, The Telegraph
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The Sunday Times

"Hail Gary Barlow, the sex god from next door"

"The Take That frontman’s one-man show is rueful and engaging"

"This engaging show, co-written by Tim Firth, is rueful, wry and just a touch wooden. Somehow that is as it should be. The evening might benefit from more music. It is when he sings, demonstrating remarkable clarity in the high notes, that Barlow takes flight as a stage presence."

Quentin Letts, The Sunday Times
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"The Take That frontman plays the hits – and the audience – beautifully in this slick one-man-show"

"Barlow’s one-man show is a hoot. Stubbled, tracksuited and as chipper as a squirrel with a Nutribullet, the 50-something Barlow has come a long way from the smalltown teen who used to ride his BMX to the park and watch the lights of the M54, dreaming of stardom."

"The music is a treat. I’m not a die-hard Take That fan. Unlike the women behind me who got, actually, so over-excited after the interval champagne that one of them started blubbing and barking like a dog."

"Congratulations to Barlow’s dad who worked years of overtime to pay for the organ, and to his mum who still shows up to all his northern gigs: their support and faith is amply rewarded here in a sweet, funny, soaringly musical show that thanks them very nicely, and in a man who is clearly at peace with himself."

Caroline McGinn, TimeOut
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📷 Main photo: Gary Barlow - A Different Stage. Photo by Claire Kramer Mackinnon

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