Greatest Days 

“A throwaway jukebox musical which requires a little Patience”.

Greatest Days (a reworking of the 2017 jukebox musical, The Band) hits Manchester for the next two weeks at The Palace Theatre.

With music and lyrics by Take That and book by Tim Firth, will this show keep coming Back For Good? - prepare yourself for puns aplenty.

Following in the footsteps of many jukebox musicals incorporating songs from the biggest boybands - The Osmonds, The Drifters and The Temptations to name but a few, Greatest Days includes more than 15 of Take That's biggest hits from their multiple incarnations. As a fan of this style of musical, it’s safe to say that I was looking forward to this one- as I’m sure many in the audience looking for that touch of 90s nostalgia, would have been also.

The plot deviates from the standard history of the boyband's road to success and the trials and tribulations along the way to one of friendship, love and loss. The story focuses on a group of school friends in two prominent times in their lives; aged 16 and 25 years later.

Unfortunately, the plot does require a little more Shine. As standalone songs, Take That have a memorable repertoire but incorporated into this show, they do nothing to drive the plot, at times feeling as though an afterthought to squeeze in another song. Having said this, a poignant scene near the end of Act 1 with A Million Love Songs was a memorable moment.

The cast show good characterisation throughout. ‘The girls' showing individuality in roles that could easily blend into one. The first thing I look forward to in a musical is that feeling of being blown away by vocals, however unfortunately these fell a little short. Whilst the ‘young girls’ harmonies were a standout moment vocally, casting for ‘The Band’ seemed to be based on their slick dance ability which often overshadowed their vocal talents. There were a fair few dud notes- especially in the higher registers where the harmonies distinctly lacked in blend.  

Leading the cast is Kym Marsh as Rachel. I was excited to see Kym in a musical as a big fan of her in the early 00’s, however she has but one solo singing line. This is a running theme in that seemingly no character gets their time in the spotlight as their moments are constantly marred by the jarring set and random songs being sung out as background noise.

Set design, by Lucy Osborne, at first glance is simple but adaptable, transporting us from Rachel’s house, a police station and even onto the concert arena. However, clunky transitions executed by The Band members acting as stagehands distract the audience, disengaging them from the performances on stage. 

The star of the show was Rob Casey and his lighting design. Standout scenes being during Shine and the opening scene for the band, a concert medley, the lighting seamlessly transitions from scene to scene and worked well with choreography by Aaron Renfree, giving us the nostalgic moves we want from a Take That musical.

Overall, this show has potential with its fantastic back catalogue, it just requires a little bit of patience and some extra work to ensure that the audience is left with a night that they’ll ‘Never Forget’.

This show was reviewed on the 18th May 2023.  Greatest Days runs at the Palace Theatre Manchester until the 27th May 2023.  Tickets available here: Greatest Days Tickets | Palace Theatre Manchester in Manchester | ATG Tickets

Review written by Lee Gregory

Photo credit: Alastair Muir

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