Greatest Days, previously titled The Band, takes audiences on a nostalgic journey following five best friends obsessed with a boy band in the 1990s. The story unfolds as they reunite over 20 years later to attend a concert of their heartthrobs, hoping for the greatest days of their lives. The musical celebrates the 30th anniversary of Take That’s first UK number one single, “Pray,” and coincides with the release of the official movie adaptation in the summer of 2023.
Greatest Days features strong performances from both the young and adult versions of Heather, Zoe, and Claire. Kitty Harris and Hannah Brown impress as Young Heather and Young Zoe, capturing the innocence and enthusiasm of teenage fans. Rachel Marwood and Holly Ashton excel as their older counterparts, portraying the growth and emotional journey of their characters. Jamie-Rose Monk delivers a standout performance as Claire, showcasing both vulnerability, humour and strength.
The choreography, helmed by Aaron Renfree, stands out as one of the musical’s highlights. Renfree’s creative and energetic dance sequences bring life to the stage, engaging the audience and providing memorable moments throughout the show. The ensemble’s execution of the choreography is commendable, displaying precision and skill. Archie Durrant shines when it comes to dancing, demonstrating some impressive moves.
The costume design, overseen by Lucy Osbourne, is generally strong. The outfits effectively transport the audience back to the 1990s, capturing the essence of the era. However, there is a notable lack of color coordination between Rachel and Young Rachel, which detracts from the overall visual cohesion.
While the musical aims to pay tribute to Take That’s music, it falls short of capturing the essence and quality of the original songs. The vocal performances of “The Band” are ropey, indicating a lack of vocal prowess and refinement. This disappointment dampens the impact of the musical numbers, as the delivery fails to match the power and emotion associated with Take That’s music.
One of the significant drawbacks of Greatest Days lies in its storyline. The narrative suffers from inconsistencies and a lack of clear direction. The characters’ arcs and development feel underdeveloped, making it difficult for the audience to fully engage with their journeys. The book, with some strong use of humour, occasionally leans heavily on surface-level jokes rather than delving into deeper emotional connections.
The set design, while versatile, encounters issues when it comes to transitions. Moving steps around the stage is described as clunky and time-consuming, which disrupts the flow of the performance. The overall brutalist aesthetic might not resonate with all viewers, potentially affecting their immersion in the story.
The lighting design, while creating fantastic moments during “The Band’s” performances, neglects to adequately illuminate the main characters. This oversight diminishes their presence on stage, as they frequently remain unlit, resulting in a lack of visual focus and impact.
The emotional impact of Greatest Days is mixed. While some poignant moments manage to touch the hearts of certain audience members, the overall development and depth of the storyline fall short. The show fails to fully explore the potential for emotional resonance, leaving the audience wanting more from the characters’ journeys.
In summary, Greatest Days receives a rating of 2.5 stars. The musical may appeal to die-hard fans of Take That, who can appreciate the nostalgia and enjoy the energetic choreography. However, the weak book, inconsistent narrative, occasionally underwhelming vocal performances, and technical drawbacks prevent the show from reaching its full potential. While there are standout moments and strong individual performances, they are not enough to compensate for the overall shortcomings of the production.