RACHEL Marwood is having to pinch herself that she’s about to come to Manchester as one of the stars in Greatest Days, the official Take That musical Greatest Days.

“I think this has to be my dream job,” she said. “It’s basically a comedy play where I get to have a little Take That singalong. It’s absolutely wonderful. I can’t believe that I get paid to do this, this is brilliant.”

Greatest Days, which comes to the Palace Theatre next week, is the story of a group of friends who were all devoted to a boy band during their teenage years. More than 20 years later they plan to finally see their heart throbs for one last time.

Messenger Newspapers: The cast of Greatest Days (Picture: Alastair Muir)

Written by Tim Firth, Greatest Days is a reworking of The Band which broke box office records when it premiered in Manchester in 2017. It features 15 Take That songs, all performed live.

“Honestly, the show is just pure joy,” said Rachel, who plays Heather. “She’s the sassy one; she’s always there with a joke or funny comment and almost pushes it too far at times. But she’s the one strutting her stuff across the stage.”

For Rachel it was pretty easy to get into character.

“I was a massive Take That fan; I still am,” she said. “I was that girl with the posters all over the bedroom wall. But my parents were a little bit strict and I was never allowed to go and see them live.

Messenger Newspapers: Regan Gascoigne, Archie Durrant, Jamie Corner, Kalifa Burto & Alexanda O'Reilly (Picture: Alastair Muir)

“In rehearsals, during the first part of the show, the grown-up girls are not on stage and we got to watch this amazing moment when the boys in the band were doing a stadium number and I was squealing like a teenager.”

Although Take That have taken a keen interest in the production and their music is featured heavily throughout, Rachel believes that Greatest Days is not just a show for the legion of Take That fans out there.

“This show is all about friendship,” she said. “The band are always referred to as ‘the boys’ not Take That and it will relate to you no matter what band you were really into as a teenager. I think that’s great because it will appeal to different generations from those who fell in love with the Beatles to young girls who idolised One Direction.”

Greatest Days also stars Kym Marsh who plays Rachel who is performing alongside her own daughter Emilie Cunliffe who plays the young Rachel.

Messenger Newspapers: Kym Marsh as Rachel & Emilie Cunliffe as Young Rachel in Greatest Days (Picture: Alastair Muir)

“Rachel is the one whose eyes we see the whole story through,” said Rachel.

“Kym is brilliant. She’s so northern and so warm; she plays the every woman so beautifully and having that mother/daughter dynamic on stage just slots in brilliantly.”

Having confessed to being a Take That fan, can Rachel see similarities between herself and her character Heather?

“Oh, I definitely had a bit of a mouth on me when I was a teenager like young Heather,” she laughed. “But now I’m older I think I’m a bit more like Rachel, the character, in real life.”

Born in Grimsby, Rachel went to drama school in Birmingham before coming to Manchester.

“That was always the dream, to live in Manchester,” she said. “But I ended up spending so much time in London for auditions that after a year I went down there and spent 10 years living in the city. Then Covid came along while I was in Mamma Mia with Royal Caribbean and sent us all home which was the excuse I needed to come back to Manchester.”

As Covid struck, Rachel decided to undertake an MA in psychology.

“When the theatres closed we all wondered if we would ever have that life again and I didn’t have a plan B; performing was all that I had done,” she said. “A week after starting my MA I found I was pregnant with my little boy so that became something of a juggling act. I finished the MA a few days before we started rehearsals for Greatest Days.”

The show will tour the UK until at least November.

“My partner has been brilliant and he’s put his career on hold so he and my little boy can come on tour with me,” said Rachel. “I couldn’t have been away from them for months.”

But now she can just enjoy the whole Greatest days experience.

“I feel that we have got something special on our hands,” she said.

Greatest Days, Palace Theatre, Manchester, Tuesday, May 16 to Saturday, May 27. Details from www.atgtickets.com