Greatest Days (The Official Take That Musical) – Review – Leeds Grand Theatre
By Steve Crabtree, November 2023
Letting it Shine this week at the Leeds Grand Theatre is the official Take That musical, Greatest Days.
It’s a show that promises to pack in a load of songs from the boy band that took the UK, the world and many a teenage girl’s bedroom by storm in the 90s. And around those famous tunes lies a fun, emotional story of friendship and growing up. Well… growing up in the loosest sense of the phrase.
Greatest Days is about five schoolgirls who were best pals back in the 90s. They didn’t just love Take That, they carried an obsession with the boys, and their excitement kicks in big time when Debbie wins tickets to see them in concert.
Then, fast forward 25 years as the girls reunite for the first time since disaster struck at the end of that concert. They were meeting up again to head to another Take That gig, finding out the directions life had taken them, and getting up to a bit of no good along the way.
It makes for a nice storyline, and they’ve worked hits such as ‘Pray’, ‘Could It Be Magic’ and ‘Patience’ into the plot. In fact, there are 18 songs in there in total, which are all familiar to the ears.
I saw the original incarnation of Greatest Days when it was The Band. I really enjoyed it that time around and found it a bright, shiny show that left you feeling pretty good at the end of it – despite the emotion the musical brings.
Now, having been ‘re-badged’ as the official Take That musical with a new name, I was expecting it to be taken to another level. However, although enjoyable, things had taken a little step backwards.
Whether that was my expectation being high, or whether the ‘oomph’ had gone a little, I can’t quite be sure.
But the cast were great. The younger versions of the girls and the senior versions too. Kym Marsh took top billing, but special mentions go to Jamie-Rose Monk, who plays the elder Claire, and Emilie Cunliffe who plays the young Rachel. The total show-stealer, though, was the magnificent Alan Stocks, taking the role of Every Dave. Without spoiling what he does, he takes a repetitive role, which changes slightly depending on the time and place he pops up. His character is one of those you look forward to coming back on to stage.
“Likely to please many a Take That fan”
A key comparison from The Band that disappoints on Greatest Days is the set. Interchangeable bits of grey wall gave a dull, dreary look. I wasn’t expecting that. In the show’s previous form, the staging and set were bigger, better, brighter. The kind of backdrop that represented a big show – the sort Take That put on for their fans on every single tour.
The storyline is a good one. And the cast did profile boy band worshipping girls of the ’90s pretty accurately. My wife could relate to the story of teen obsession with a band quite easily. In fact, it got her checking her phone for Take That’s next tour on the way home, and finding out when they next perform in Leeds! (April 2024, by the way!).
There is comedy. I laughed many times, and so did the rest of the theatre. Perhaps the story second half needed a little more substance in it – it moved on very quickly. But all in all, Greatest Days offers a nice evening at Leeds Grand Theatre. And it’s a musical that’s likely to please many a Take That fan.
For this writer, I was searching for a little bit more, to let it rank up there in my collection of memorable jukebox musicals.
Greatest Days runs at Leeds Grand Theatre until Saturday 25th November.