Greatest Days is the official musical featuring Take That songs. You can have a greatest day going to see this wonderful show at Waterside Theatre, Aylesbury this week.
The show is not about Take That despite showcasing their music. It heavily lends itself to any teenager who loved a boy band when they were young. Its actually a story of friendship. Five friends who love a band.
Rachel and her four friends are so excited about seeing their band on Top Of The Pops. Debbie enters a competition and tells her friends that they have won tickets to see the band. They are beyond excited! They all go to the show but hanging around afterwards they don’t get to meet their idols. They have no money for the last bus home but blag their way onto it until their singing antics get them thrown off. They walk to the hill and see their town in the distance. It almost looks pretty with the car headlights from up there. The five girls make a pact to meet up in 25 years’ time. ‘Well, we don’t need that pact because we won’t lose touch’ they say, and Debbie gives them all a band from the gig to remember this special night.
Jennifer Ellison plays adult Rachel. Her struggles of adult life and her reasons not to commit to ‘Maximum’ Jeff (Keith Henderson) are to unfold during the show. Although we first see Rachel as an adult, we soon see her back story of when she was at school with her friends. Young Rachel is played by Olivia Hallett. Her friends are Debbie (Bayley Hart) who is the cool one, Claire (Mari McGinlay) the sporty one, Zoe (Hannah Brown) the geeky one and Heather (Kitty Harris) the loud and flirty one. All give fabulous performances of the characters they play defining the people they are as teens, and this helps the audience later when we meet them again as adults. The girls feel real. They are you and I and speak our inner teen. We (the audience) get them. 25 years later after another competition Rachel contacts the others to ask if they fancy going to Greece to see the reunion tour? How have they changed? Are they really deep down the same teenagers? Seeing how they have changed was portrayed by some fantastic acting by Karen Holmes, Jamie-Rose Monk, and Holly Ashton.
The boys are not trying to be Take That but instead they interpret the songs in their own way. They can dance too with some wicked (can I still get away with saying that?) moves. I especially loved The Flood which was a carbon copy of the Progress Tour that I was at.
The bus driver/school caretaker/roadie are all named Dave and were all played by Alan Stocks. His dry wit was perfect to deliver a really funny performance. I met him in the car park before the show and he told me he plays Robbie, so he is even funny off stage.
This feels like a different show for those fans who originally saw The Band musical. It is essentially the same story although there are lots of small details that have changed. This show has a sparce set and I do miss the boys popping out of Rachel’s locker at school. I have no idea why Prague was changed to Greece and although I understand why Take That have changed the title of the show to fit a song, I liked the clever double meaning of The Band.
But despite all that this is a guaranteed feel-good musical. Its heartwarming. It boasts a much better story than Mamma Mia or We Will Rock You. And of course, it features so many of our favourite Take That songs. All the songs fitted the scenes perfectly and it was enjoyable to hear snippets here and there when Rachel was talking to herself. She even says ‘quiet boys’ when she wants time to herself, and they sing quieter. The songs include big hits like Patience, Rule The World, Shine, The Flood, Back For Good, Pray and Relight My Fire as well as early hits such as Could It Be Magic, It Only Takes a Minute and Do What You Like. Don’t worry – there is a medley at the end for you to sing and dance to and believe me, I was giving it my all. Who doesn’t pretend to be Lulu during relight my fire, right?
I know how hard Take That work to make their shows perfect and this musical is no exception. Every cast member delivers a flawless performance. This isn’t just a musical for Take That fans, it’s there for anyone who knows friendship. Its for anyone who has worshiped an idol as a teen. I make no bones about it. I love this show. I love the story and despite knowing the story well (and have a copy of the film version), it still makes me cry in the tender moments of the show.
Greatest Days is at Waterside Theatre, Aylesbury until 11 November 2023.