The Greatest Days

An evening of 90’s nostalgia and a story of loss and friendship that tugs on your heartstrings"

Written by Tim Firth and with a music soundtrack of one of the biggest boybands of our generation, Take That, The Greatest Days is a show full of heart, humour, love and friendship.  The story follows a group of teenage girls in the 90’s obsessed with their favourite band simply known as ‘The Band’.  The dynamic of the group changes and they lose touch until a competition win brings them back together to unite for the gig of a lifetime.

Firstly, the songs in this show come thick and fast from the outset and the crowd were certainly ready to ‘Take That and Party’.  You can’t help but clap along to the infectious pop songs that we all know and love.  As someone whose musical education was heavily influenced by 90’s pop, I couldn’t help but be totally transformed back in time to my own teenage life, and it was a lovely place to be for the evening.

We meet the excitable teenagers as they arrive for school in raptures about the previous nights Top of the Pops where their idols performed ‘Pray’. Funny nods to recording the song from the TV onto a cassette player, which we’ve all done of course, instantly throws me back to 90’s.  Each of the girls did a fantastic job providing such high energy throughout. Young Rachel (Evangeline Jarvis Jones), Young Heather (Kitty Harris), Young Zoe (Hannah Brown) Young Claire (Mari McGinlay) and Debbie (Bayley Hart) worked incredibly well together and provided some lovely vocals.  Special mention to Kitty Harris who was excellent in her portrayal of your archetypal glamour queen of the school.  Her comic timing was perfect, and she clearly has a big future on the stage.

‘The Band’ comprised of Benjamin Cameron, Archie Durrant, Regan Gascoigne, Jamie Corner and Alexanda O’Reilly.  They all looked the part and the choreography by Aaron Renfree enabled them to shine (unnecessary Take That pun!).  They also provided a pumped-up energy and especially during the first concert scene where they sang hit after hit much to the delight of the audience.  There were moments when the vocals weren’t quite up to scratch, especially in the stripped back numbers where the harmonies did not blend too well, however I must mention Jamie Corner whose voice stood out and suited the style of music perfectly.

As the story progresses, we meet the girls in their differing adult lives. Rachel (Rachel Marwood) wins a competition to see ‘The Band’ on their reunion tour in Athens and decides to invite her old friends who she hasn’t seen since the funeral of their dear friend Debbie who lost her life in a tragic car accident.  She meets Heather (Charlotte Anne Steen), Zoe (Holly Ashton) and Claire (Jamie-Rose Monk) and after a few hours together, it’s like they had never been apart.  The relationship between these old school friends is heart-warming and they all gelled together really well.  Special mention to Jamie-Rose Monk for her hilarious quips with some fantastic dialogue.

I must also mention Alan Stocks who plays Dave amongst many other characters throughout the show.  Even though his appearances are short and sweet, he provides such hilarity each time he appears and deserves his own round of applause!

There are many tender moments during the show which really tug on the heartstrings.  Having to deal with such a catastrophic loss at an early age clearly follows the girls as they enter adulthood, each one of them blaming each other to an extent, however they are able to overcome this, and their bond becomes stronger than ever resulting in a beautiful moment aloft their ‘special place’ at the top of the town where they release balloons in memory of their beloved friend, Debbie.

There are many positives about this show, however there were a couple of things that let it down slightly.  One being the staging which I found minimal, consisting of two sets of stairs that are wheeled in and out, sometimes quite loudly which distracts from the performances on stage. The lighting by Rob Casey assisted greatly in making the staging a little more interesting though with the use of spotlights during the concert scenes that lit up the whole auditorium.

The extensive back catalogue of Take That hits is performed with flair by the musicians under the Musical Direction of Josh Cottell.  The sound reverberated around the theatre providing a real party atmosphere and with such feel-good hits it was hard not to smile.

This show was reviewed on the 17th July 2023.  The Greatest Days runs at the Wolverhampton Grand until the 22nd July 2023.  Tickets available here: GREATEST DAYS | Wolverhampton Grand Theatre

Photo credit: Alastair Muir

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