TAKE That’s Gary Barlow has a message for fans of the band.

“You have been watching us for 25 years but guess what? We’ve been watching you!” he said.

Gary along with bandmates Mark Owen and Howard Donald have used the experience of performing in front of thousands of fans around the world in their roles as co-producers for the musical The Band which has its world premiere in Manchester on Friday.

Gary, Mark and Howard appear remarkably relaxed when we meet in a hotel room in the city centre.

“This is the lovely bit because no one has seen the show yet,” said Gary, “It’s all about potential at this point, It’s really exciting.”

The Band, which features the hits of Take That, is about a group teenage girls in 1992 for whom The Band is everything. Now the fortysomethings reunite and decide to track down their heroes.

“The important thing is what the story is about,” said Mark. “We know those people, we know the audience, we know who the story is written about.

“When we look out from the stage during one of our shows we’re seeing those people.”

Howard said that The Band is not just a show for Take That fans.

“I think it relates to a lot of people whether you are into Take That’s music or not,” he said. “The storyline relates to any group of people growing up together.”

“It’s about that sense of community,” said Gary. “One of my proudest things is when I look at our social media and see groups of people who are together because of us.

“It’s so lovely that people have got together who would never have met if they hadn’t been part of our fanbase - I think that’s great.”

Gary, Mark and Howard are co-producers of the show along with former bandmate Robbie Williams and leading West End producers David Pugh and Dafydd Rogers.

“We have been involved as much as we wanted to be without getting in the way,” laughed Mark. “A musical has been something we’ve wanted to do for quite some time. We probably had the first conversations about seven or eight years ago.”

The Band has been written by Tim Firth, who previously worked with lifelong friend Gary on the West End hit The Girls.

“We’ve been involved as much as time has allowed,” said Howard. “We’ve just finished a tour and had six or seven weeks preparation for that beforehand so our concentration had to be on that for a while but we were always getting draughts sent through to us to read and to comment on. We’ve been to rehearsals on days off from the tour and we’ve probably seen the show 15 or 20 times in rehearsal.

“We do feel honoured to be part of it.”

Although Take That’s stage shows are very theatrical experiences in their own right, for both Mark and Howard, the foray into the world of musicals is a new experience.

“When you watch it take shape like we have done you cannot believe the intricacies and the amount of work that goes into it,” said Howard.

“I think we are on 47 re-writes at the moment - it’ll probably be 50 by the time the show opens.”

The soundtrack to the show is classic Take That songs.

“Listening to the songs in the show gives them a whole new meaning,” said Howard.

“The first time I sat there and watched the show I was like ‘hey, these songs are good. I never knew that’,” added Mark.

“For the first time, we are the fans.”

“We’ve been making this bagful of music for most of our lives and to see it all given a new lease of life like this feels so exciting for us.” said Gary.

The young performers of Five to Five - who make up The Band were chosen through the TV show Let it Shine and they have impressed their mentors.

“Their commitment has been wonderful,” said Mark.

“They have all developed massively. It took us 25 years to develop but they have managed it in nine months.”

Would any of them have been tempted to go on a similar TV show when they were first starting out?

“Not me,” said Howard. “I never wanted to be famous or a singer. I just wanted to be a dancer. I never expected to be singing on stage in front of thousands of people.”

It is no coincidence that The Band is opening in Manchester.

“It could only have started here,” said Gary, “It is Manchester’s show really and it was very important for us for a Manchester audience to see it first.”

The Band goes from Manchester on a full UK tour but Gary hopes that this will just be the start of things.

“We want to take it to the West End and to other countries.” he said. “We have got big ambitions for this show.”

And he had some more good news for Take That fans.

“There will be a greatest hits album, definitely,” he said. “Our last hits album was in 2006 so we’re well due an album full of singles and we will try and write some new material for it. So that’s next for us as a band but first we’re all just so excited about the musical.”

The Band, Manchester Opera House, Friday, September 8 to Saturday, September 30. Details from 0844 871 3018 or www.atgtickets.com