Given how vehemently Take That have distanced themselves from Never Forget (See The Goss, 30 Mar 2007), the new stage musical based on their greatest hits, it’s little surprise that none of the members of the reformed band turned up for the glitzy opening last night (23 August 2007) at the Opera House in their home city of Manchester.

However, other famous Mancunian faces did attend, including stars from TV’s Shameless and Coronation Street, both set in the city, as well as Nigel Martin Smith, the Manchester-based band manager who originally found and assembled the members of Take That - Gary Barlow, Jason Orange, Mark Owen, Howard Donald and Robbie Williams – in the early 1990s.

With a book by TV screenwriter Danny Brocklehurst (whose credits include Shameless, Clocking Off, Sorted), Never Forget centres on the members of the unlikeliest Take That tribute band and follows the rollercoaster journey of young hero Ash and his best mates in the pursuit of their dreams. The show includes Take That chart-toppers including “Relight My Fire”, “Pray”, “Back for Good”, “Babe” and the title number “Never Forget”.

TO SCROLL THROUGH ALL OF THE NEVER FORGET 1st NIGHT PHOTOS,
JUST CLICK ON THE "NEXT >" LINKS BELOW THE FOLLOWING FRAME.

For 1st Night Photos, our Whatsonstage.com photographer Dan Wooller was on hand for arrivals and the curtain call at the Opera House and at the post-show party at Relish in Manchester along with members of the company. Other first night guests included Vanessa Feltz, Ben Ofoedu, Susannah Fellows, Alisdair Harvey, Coronation Street’s Emma Edmondson, Samantha Seager, Thomas Hudson and Tupele Dorgu, ShamelessSamantha Siddall and Rebecca Atkinson, Big Brother contestant Seany O'Kane and radio and TV presenter Richard Bacon.

Never Forget continues in Manchester until 1 September and then visits Stoke (4 to 8 September) and Edinburgh (18 to 22 September), ahead of a planned London transfer. The musical stars Dean Chisnall (as Ash), Craig Els, Stephane Anelli, Tim Driesen and Eaton James. It’s directed by Ed Curtis, designed by Bob Bailey and choreographed by Karen Bruce, with Mike Dixon as musical supervisor. The producers are Tristan Baker and Bronia Buchanan.

Take That dominated the UK pop charts with their dance tunes and soulful ballads, selling 15 million records between 1990 and their split in 1996. After a TV documentary in 1995 and the release of a greatest hits album, four of the original band members (Robbie Williams being the one exception) reunited for last summer’s Ultimate Tour. The band released its first studio album in more than a decade - Beautiful World - in November 2006, and their single, "Shine", topped the charts, going straight to Number One when it was released earlier this year.

- by Terri Paddock