RICHARD Darbourne is under no illusions about the challenge that lies ahead as he prepares to take the hit musical to Sunny Afternoon on a national tour.

The show based on the story of The Kinks opens at Manchester Opera House next month before spending the best part of a year on the road.

This will be the first time the show will have left London's West End. Last year it won four Olivier Awards including that for Best New Musical.

"No, there's no pressure at all," laughed Blackpool-born Richard. "I'm surrounded on all sides leading members of the theatrical and musical industry and in the middle there's me pulling it all together. But there's absolutely nothing I'd rather do. It's a great privilege to be able to look after a show like this."

Sunny Afternoon tells the story of brothers Ray and Dave Davies and their band The Kinks' rise to stardom during the Sixties.

It features many classic Kinks hits including Waterloo Sunset, Lola and You Really Got Me.

But Richard is quick to point out, Sunny Afternoon is not a 'jukebox' musical.

"It's a real story of standing up to be counted." said Richard. "It's a story of the Sixties and of brotherhood - that relationship between Ray and Dave is laid bare and it's a very euphoric story of a British band rising to great stardom

"Also it's a story of how this amazing sound that still affects British music today evolved.

"Not only has sunny Afternoon got all this hit music it's got a fantastic story of love and friendship going through it which makes it so special."

Ray Davis, who wrote the original 'book' for the musical is still very much involved in the production.

"He's a huge asset to the show," said Richard. "His involvement lifts the whole energy of the piece."

An exciting aspect of the show is that it brings different audiences together for the night.

"One of brilliant qualities of the show is that there is a huge crossover between music and theatre fans and fans of the era," said Richard.

"It also exposes a younger generation to the whole thing and they are surprised to discover that they know more songs than they think they do.

"As a result the Kinks are making new fans in 2016 - that is the power of live theatre, it transports you to a different time."

As producer for the tour, Richard is responsible for ensuring that the show which has played to sold out houses for nearly two years transfers seamlessly to different theatres across the UK.

"It's very much about retaining the DNA that has made the West End show such a success," he said. "We are taking all the components of the West End show but making that show work in venues of all different shapes and sizes.

"Every audience member at every theatre around the country is going for an experience that is tailored and unique for them. They don't want to see a show that they think 'this was for some other theatre' and that is quite right.

"As a producer you are doing your job right when no-one knows you exist."

Richard is particularly pleased to be returning to his native North West to launch the tour in Manchester.

"I'm very excited to be beginning in Manchester," he said. "It's a fantastic city, there's such a buzz about the show coming.

"And deservedly so as I know people will come away feeling very joyful and celebratory from having seen it. It's got such great energy."

Sunny Afternoon is at Manchester Opera House from Friday, August 19 to Saturday, August 27. Details from 0844 871 3018.