Well that was a surprise...
I'm not sure what I was expecting but this certainly wasn't it. Perhaps I have seen too many shows attempting to build a story around a back catalogue and, apart from the bigger songs, I was not much into Take That ... it just wasn't my era. However, this is a very carefully constructed piece - the songs reflect the mood rather than being shoe-horned into the plot and the characters are well written with a genuine story to tell. Add to that a really imaginative set, a "band" that can really sing, dance and move scenery and you have a winning combiination. By the interval I was won over, by the end I was convinced - this really is a great show!
The band were chosen through the medium of TV in the show "Let I Shine" - they don't play Take That as such and they are not directly part of the story - more the catalyst that binds together a group of teenage fans who are torn apart by tragedy and meet again, many years later and not where they intended to be in life. The Band's role is almost that of Greek Chorus, which they do very well, and the fountain scene is a real delight. A quick shout-out for Andy Williams (no, not that one) as Every Dave who links many of the scenes with some beautiful comic timing. This really is an ensemble show - well, three ensembles really; The Band, the young girls and their older selves (beautfully cast!). I would give away too much if I said more - the plot has plenty of humour humour and is not without its twists and I confess to having a moment near the end (damn that dust in my eye) - these are well drawn and beautifully played characters in a believable story that carries you along.
I would very happily see this again. And again. Given that, I hope it has a long life - I'm pretty sure it will!