One Direction musical cast looks nothing like One Direction, but Zayn is back

Matt Ryan, who plays Niall, insists the band are not 'lookalikes or impersonators' so fans have no reason to be angry

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The Independent Culture

One Direction fans might soon be left bewildered when a new reincarnation of their beloved pop group steals the limelight. Meet the cast of The One Direction Story, an upcoming West End musical about the chart-toppers’ epic rise to global fame.

Tribute band Only One Direction formed in 2012 and is compiled of 20 singers who take it turns to perform as the teenage heartthrobs. Five members of this gang - yes, Zayn is making a comeback - have been picked for the production and the first photos of them have been released.

Matthew Maguire isn’t the worst Harry Styles lookalike out there with his red bandanna and floppy mop, but whether Matt Ryan will convince any Directioners that he’s the spit of Louis Tomlinson remains in serious doubt. Next up you have Henry Allen as an equally dubious Liam Payne, Matt Brinkler as Irish boy Niall Horan (the blonde hair is there but not a lot else) and Jamie Searls as prodigal son Zayn Malik. 

One Direction last year before Zayn, far left, quit to 'be a normal 22-year-old'

“They've tried to get rid of me but I've stayed,” said Searls. “They're not getting rid of me that easily. We like to keep it as a five piece, it's a bit of nostalgia for One Direction fans. While they can't get Zayn on the real tour, they can get Zayn in the West End.”

Only One Direction have had a small taste of life in the world’s biggest boyband, touring Dubai malls, performing a string of gigs across the UK and playing for 10,000 festival-goers.

The musical will run for two days and nights at the Lyric Theatre on Shaftsbury Avenue from 24-28 October, with the story following the past five years of One Direction and featuring 21 of the biggest hits. It’s a “perfect family-friendly show and pop concert all in one”, apparently. 

Only One Direction will likely be preparing themselves to field the wrath of Directioners, who are not known for taking kindly to anyone willing to rival their worshipped originals.

Earlier this year, tribute band One and Only Direction were targeted by angry fans on Twitter using the hashtag #STOPyouarenot1D.

If you think that wouldn’t be terrifying, have a flick through some of the things Directioners actually say on social media:

Despite this warning, the boys aren’t too worried. “We’re not lookalikes, we’re not impersonators, so I don’t think they have any reason to be angry,” Matt said, adding that he met the real deal a few years ago and discussed the possibility of a musical. 

“He said, ‘There’s a show about us? Already?’ but I think the last five years have been crazy, they’ve been so intense that there’s enough people out there to want to see a show about their lives and their music.”

One Direction go on hiatus next March, so Only One Direction could be exactly what fans need to tide them over. They might just need to squint.