Reviewed by Jodie Crawford
Opening Night verdict ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Quite surprisingly this jukebox musical is not the actual story of Take That, nor is it the story of “The Band” which feature as a background soundtrack to this production. But, this is a glorious, heartwarming story of friendship, loss, love, fear and how it feels to love a boy band more than any thing else in the world.
Now – disclaimer- I am not a huge Take That fan. I’m more of a New Kids on the Block girl, but after tonight I realised how the sound track of this musical has in fact been the sound track of so much of my late teenage years. A bit like: I’m not a fan of Angels by Robbie, yet I know all the words! What I also categorically know is that the Manchester audience tonight were absolutely gagging to see this Bobby Dazzler of a show.
Putting Greatest Days in on Manchester is a Take That fans version of a United fan watching United in a premier league title match at Old Trafford. There is no better place for this show to be. It’s a wonderful homecoming.
The plot takes us back to the 90s, where we were wearing knee high socks and pleated tartan mini skirts or adidas trackies, where we were recording our favourite hits on our ghetto blasters on a Sunday afternoon while listening to the charts, where we were making up dances with our mates so that we could dance along when the Smash Hits poll winners party was on the telly. Here, we meet five friends, as different as the spice girls to one another. Who, thanks to the beautiful, talented Debbie (played by the magnificent Mary Moore) have the chance to go and see their favourite band play in Manchester. A treat like no other; all they have to do is tell a few lies to their parents and make their way to the concert. Their aim is to finally meet the boys, face to face. The night however doesn’t go as planned and their lives are never the same again.
The events of that night breaks the bond the girls have, until the once in a lifetime chance brings them together 25 years later.
I don’t mind admitting it, I did shed quite a few tears at various moments of the show. And judging by the sniffing sounds around the auditorium, I wasn’t the only one.
The entire cast were incredible. The connections between the friends as their younger selves and then older selves was electric. And the scene where the younger version comes together with the older one was so enchantingly beautiful.
Special mention goes to the wonderful Jamie-Rose Monk for her hilarious and touching portrayal of older Claire. Never have I laughed more than at the line “I like to sleep with a man and then eat him”. Rachel Marwood is a brilliant older Heather; I am not surprised that Rachel has been awarded a “funny woman” award previously – she is a great comic actress.
Holly Aston, Hannah Brown, Emilie Cunliffe, Kitty Harris and Mari McGinley, were all outstanding in their performances. They work well together on stage and deserve every moment of the standing ovation given. While Kym Marsh was dazzling: she can sing, she can dance and Manchester love her, she’s one of ours and Mancunians couldn’t be prouder.
The “boys” did exactly what their role asks of them, they gave us a sound track, they didn’t take the limelight, they let the women shine in all their glory. And they did so with so much talent and humbleness. They help to tell the story, they know it’s not all about them and they take that with grace. And they also lead a fabulous finale!
It’s also worth the ticket price to see Alan Price in his many roles, a true legend of the stage in every sense of the word.
The music is what ties everything together in this production, the goosebumps on the back of my neck when “Never Forget” started up. You could feel the electricity sweep through the audience. Most people will go and see this show because they love Take That, but it’s more than a homage to a boy band-it’s a tribute to those of us who bonded with our ill fitting friends over our love of pop music. It’s a dedication to the girls who queued for hours for tickets or at stage door at the end of the night for a glimpse of their favourite member of the band. It’s a reflection of lives lived, and those not lived fully. It’s a chance to reminisce of how we saw ourselves 25 years ago and be proud of the women we became. It is nostalgic, but it’s also insightful and moving, a perfect night out.
Greatest Days is on at Manchester’s Palace Theatre until Saturday 27th May tickets available here.