AFTER more than a quarter of a century of record-breaking arena and stadium tours, Take That have now turned their attention to staging a musical phenomenon.

I've loved them for pretty much all of that time, their hits providing the soundtrack to my teenage years.

So it was the most exciting invitation I've received in a long time when a note from the boys asking me to join them at the world premiere of The Band dropped into my inbox.

But would it Shine?

The Band had already become the fastest-selling musical of recent history when it went on sale in April, in a blaze of publicity after the show’s stars were found on BBC talent contest Let It Shine.

I was thrilled to hear Southampton would be the first Southern date on a lengthy tour and even more delighted I was to get a sneak preview at the glitzy red carpet event at The Opera House in Manchester this week.

I know I'm pretty much the box office dream, the show's ideal audience as a teenage Thatter of the 90s now a keen theatre-goer nearing my 40th birthday, but I truly believe this beautiful story of friendship would appeal to any generation.

The musical itself stands alongside the very best with top-notch production values and of course a superb soundtrack.

You'd expect an audience full of family, friends and those lucky enough to be rubbing shoulders with a host of soaps stars and celebs to be on their feet as Lulu joined Gary Barlow, Howard Donald and Mark Owen for a dazzling finale at the premiere, but standing ovations at every preview night tells its own story.

This is truly one of the best night's entertainment I have ever enjoyed.

And that was even before the after show party where I went a bit rogue and reverted to my teenage self to stake out my 90s teenage love Mr Barlow for a more 21st Century selfie.

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