When Sario Solomon steps on stage on the opening night of Take That-inspired musical The Band next month, he’ll have a few people to thank.
But alongside Gary and the boys, the TV judges and the voting public, the most important thank you will go to his mum. Because without the last-minute intervention of Mrs Solomon, he wouldn’t be there at all.
“I’ve always loved BBC musical theatre shows,” explains the 20-year-old from Muswell Hill (pictured right, above). “I remember they did Oliver ages ago. And I loved the Joseph one, the Sound of Music. I watched all of them.
“I wasn’t really that confident with this one because I haven’t been to full-time musical theatre school, and because I wanted to concentrate more on my A-levels so I thought, I probably won’t go for it.
“But my mum found out and said no you should, and applied on the final day of auditions. So it’s a bit of a fairytale story.”
Proving mother always knows best, Sario impressed the judges – including Danii Minogue and Martin Kemp – with performances of songs like Soft Cell’s Tainted Love, and later, in the group sessions where he was placed in Five to Five, with a string of Olly Murs hits, Billy Joel’s Tell Her About It and You Can’t Stop the Beat from Hairspray.
All this despite developing a debilitating bout of laryngitis.
Talking of vocals, Sario promises the lads will be taking especially good care of their voices when they hit the road, opening the inaugural UK tour of Tim Firth and Gary Barlow’s The Band at Manchester Opera House in September.
“We’re all going to have to be very professional,” he says. “After the performances finishes, voice rest, steaming your throat, a lot of lemon and honey.”
No partying then?
“Of course no partying!” he laughs. “We need to put on the best performance we can for the audience, and if we’re partying that’s not going to happen.”
Mind you, the final night of the tour – in Edinburgh next July – does coincide with his 21st birthday, so the two together should make that quite an evening to remember. Or not perhaps!
In the meantime the cast are currently hard at work “finessing” the show, which looks at what it’s like to grow up with a boyband – something those of us of almost any age can identify with.
For five 16-year-old friends in 1992, ‘the band’ is everything. Now, 25 years on, the audience meets the group of friends as 40-something women as they try once more to fulfil their dream of meeting their heroes.
The ladies in question are played by actresses Rachel Lumberg, Emily Joyce, Alison Fitzjohn and Jayne McKenna, while the cast also includes their youthful selves, alongside actors Rachelle Diedericks (Debbie), Martin Miller (Jeff) and Andy Williams (Dave).
While Sario is wary about giving too much away about what we can expect, he does reveal: “We’re pretty much on stage for the whole script, singing all these Take That songs. We have all these solos, and big dances that you can’t hide behind anyone!
“We’re a sort of Greek chorus. It’s about these young girls growing up with The Band, but we’re always there for them if they’ve got troubles, trials and tribulations. We help create and move the story as well.”
Rehearsals have been “intense” – only broken up by an appearance singing live at last month’s Liverpool Pride. But they’ve had plenty of support from a certain group of singers who know better than most about being at the eye of the storm.
“Gary has come to several rehearsals,” Sario says. “He came to all the workshops as well pretty much. Robbie and Jason have been sent the script and the filming as well, so they’re all watching. And Howard and Mark also came up. They’re all lovely.
“It’s weird sort of now chatting to us on text. I had a message recently and I was like, oh hey, who is this? And it was Gary. He’s been great, very supportive.
“Also, Five to Five as a group have signed a management deal and Gary says he’s planning to look to help us with that as well. So he’s very hands on with the musical and also us as a group.
“And they’re all lovely people of course. That’s why they’ve lasted so long. You can tell they’re honestly all great men.”
It’s all a far cry from the part-time tree surgeon work Sario was doing as he waited to take up a theatre studies place at London University this autumn. All those plans have now, perhaps unsurprisingly, changed.
He smiles: “After the musical, we don’t know what’s happening. It might go on tour again, it might go to the West End, we’re not sure. You never know.
“Five to Five as a group, we probably want to progress with that, and as I said, Gary is helping us with that, so I really don’t know. But the future is bright.”
The Band is at the Manchester Opera House from September 8-30. Tickets from the website HERE.
It comes to the Liverpool Empire from January 23 to February 3. Tickets from the website HERE.