Music and Lyrics: Take That
Writer: Tim Firth
Directors: Tim Firth and Stacey Haynes
Greatest Days, the official Take That musical, is about to be released as a major motion picture, can be seen on two P&O cruises and is enjoying a huge tour of the UK. This week the touring production is playing at the Lyceum in Sheffield. The musical, with a book by Tim Firth, tells the story of a group of girls who bond over their love for a boyband. We meet the girls at age 16, and then are reunited with them as they reunite 25 years later. The show uses the music of Take That to move the story along, although most of the music is delivered by the Boyband rather than the actual characters whose stories we’re following.
Tim Firth’s script is excellent, and would be just as moving and funny without the music. He creates five believable characters who share a friendship that everyone can relate to. The show tackles a number of very serious themes, but Firth explores them without deliberating on them for too long. The show is strongest when our leading ladies get to lead musical moments, although sadly this doesn’t happen anywhere near as much as it should.
Stacey Haynes and Tim Firth direct the production. They keep the show moving at a good pace, and use the space well to depict to the different timelines. They pull out a healthy dose of humour, whilst ensuring the more moving scenes really do a pack a punch. Aaron Renfree’s choreography is a highlight of the production. He gives the audience what they want from a boyband and a Take That musical, without just creating a Take That tribute act. The Boyband is made up of Kalifa Burton, Jamie Corner, Archie Durrant, Regan Gascoigne and, at this performance, Taylor Alman. They all sound nice vocally, although have a very different sound to Take That, but where they really shine is in the phenomenal dance ability. Tony Gayle’s sound design shines in the second act as he ensures the musical numbers hit like they should, although I would have liked the music to have been a bit louder in the first act. Rob Casey’s lighting design is exceptional, really making the audience feel like they’re at a stadium concert.
The cast assembled by David Grindrod deliver Tim Firth’s material brilliantly. Kym Marsh headlines the production as Rachel. Marsh gives a moving performance and confidently fronts some production numbers. Holly Ashton gives a strong performance as Zoe and Rachel Marwood is great as Heather. Both Ashton and Marwood show a great range in their performances. Jamie-Rose Monk is an utter joy to watch as Claire. Her comic timing is outstanding, whilst also tackling her more moving moments beautifully.
Emilie Cunliffe gives a heartbreaking performance as Young Rachel and has a beautiful rapport with Mary Moore as Debbie. Moore is energetic and brings a huge amount of joy to the earlier scenes of the musical. Kitty Harris is great as Young Heather who sleeps around with all the boys, and Hannah Brown is equally fun to watch as Young Zoe who loves books and doesn’t want to misbehave. Mari McGinlay completes the group of young girls, who all have a fantastic rapport, as Young Claire who has a great comic timing. All of these women have terrific vocals, with an emotional rendition of Back For Good being one of the highlights of the production.
Greatest Daysis a fun show with lots of potential. When the women get to sing and move their own stories along, the show is really elevated, and the large production numbers such as Never Forget are brilliant fun. Sadly the show just never quite seems to fully find its feet, most of the time feeling like a play with an underscore of Take That songs.
Runs until 17th June 2023.