JUST when you thought the audience couldn't get more excited, out walked Gary Barlow, Mark Owen and Howard Donald for an encore of Relight My Fire and the roof of the venerable old theatre threatened to lift off completely.

The Band, co-produced by Take That, is one long celebration from start to finish. You're not going to get the added bonus of the show's co-producers coming on at the end every night as they did on press night accompanied by Lulu, but judging by the ecstatic reaction of the audience throughout, that won't matter.

The show is a celebration of fandom which will strike an immediate chord with anyone for whom music has played a part in their lives.

It is also unashamedly aimed at a female audience and there are several 'hanky' moments as writer Tim Firth wrings emotion out of a script that is an homage to fortysomething women everywhere.

The Band isn't a challenging work of theatre but it's not supposed to be, so get over it and get ready to clap along. It's engaging, it's huge fun, it's brilliantly choreographed and as its soundtrack has the music of Take That.

The story follows five teenage girls who are devoted to The Band. Fast forward 25 years and those friends who have drifted apart since their schooldays set out to see their heroes in concert.

Five to Five, chosen via BBC's Let It Shine play The Band. On stage for much of the production they did an admirable job in performing an array of Take That numbers which underpin the production. Their harmonies and dancing skills were particularly impressive as were their abilities as stage hands allowing for some lightning changes.

There were some nice touches giving a nod and a wink to some early Take That video excesses too and the living fountain scene was inspired.

The audience was like a coiled spring from the outset, ready to yell, sing-along and clap the moment a Take That number pounded out from the stage.

It's easy to forget what a hold Take That have on so many fans, but they had all come to worship the music of their heroes with semi-religious fervour. At times it felt like a plot was almost unnecessary, the girls in the audience were out to have a good time.

But there is a plot and it's actually one which is both funny and moving.

The characters of the adult fans of the The Band and their younger selves all struck a chord with the audience particularly Alison Fitzjohn as the grown-up Claire, the former Olympic hopeful who failed to achieve her dreams.

And there are messages about friendship, love and belonging which although bordering on the cloying, just work in context of the show.

You also realise what good songs Gary Barlow and co have written over the years.

If you're a Fan of Take That then, apart from a full blown concert, this is the ultimate show for you. Mums, daughters and grans will flock to this in their droves and love every second of it. If you're not a Take That fan then there is still plenty in it to enjoy.

Sure it borders on the cheesy at times, it unashamedly goes for the emotions but The Band is pure, unadulterated fun with a stonking soundtrack running throughout.

The musical 'made in Manchester' heads off on a UK tour from next week