Review: Greatest Days, Wales Millennium Centre

Kate Griffin reviews the official Take That musical, Greatest Days at Wales Millennium Centre until July 1st.

If you could go back to being 16 again, would you? The group of friends in musical Greatest Days are faced with the reality of how much things have changed since their teenage years. Is looking back ever a good idea? And, after a shared tragedy and decades of estrangement, is there anything left to salvage of their friendship?

Greatest Days is the official Take That musical, but it’s not the story of the band. The boy band in this musical is made up of talented dancers and singers, but they could be any group of good-looking lads. The point is how the shared love of any band can become a focal point for intense feelings and close friendships when you’re a teenage girl.

We switch between the 1990s and the present day, seeing how the women’s present lives differ from the dreams they once had. The casting is spot-on, especially the matching between the younger and older versions of the same characters. It was an inspired choice to cast real-life mother and daughter Kym Marsh and Emilie Cunliffe as the two versions of Rachel. Mary Moore is funny and sometimes heartbreaking as the ebullient but innocent Debbie.

The music of Take That is the trigger for these middle-aged women to finally reckon with the past, reconnect with their friendship group and begin reshaping their futures. Of course, the target audience for Greatest Days is a very similar demographic. For many of us, hearing the songs of Take That is enough to catapult us back to our carefree younger selves. And this production certainly doesn’t hold back on the hits. The storyline somehow manages to cram in 18 songs from Take That’s back catalogue and remind us exactly why they were such a big deal in their day.

By the end the audience is on their feet, clapping, dancing and singing along. Greatest Days is partly a celebration of one band’s music. But it’s also a celebration of how female friendships can stand the test of time and a reminder that it’s never too late to change your life. All this makes it a very uplifting, life-affirming experience for the audience. If Take That songs were the soundtrack to your teenage years, even if you weren’t much of a fan, this show is for you.

Greatest Days continues at Wales Millennium centre until July 1st 2023. For ticket availability visit the WMC website.

Read on: Kym Marsh and Emilie Cunliffe discuss “Rollercoaster of emotions” that is Greatest Days.

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