Gary Barlow today said he was taking “nothing for granted” after his first musical The Girls won a standing ovation from stars at its West End debut.
Mark Owen was at the show opener last night to support his “workaholic” bandmate, who is also filming the BBC’s Let it Shine and preparing a new Take That album.
Graham Norton, Great British Bake Off’s Mel Giedroyc, Soft Cell frontman Marc Almond and This Morning’s Phillip Schofield were among the crowd at the Phoenix Theatre.
Barlow began writing the musical five years ago with childhood friend Tim Firth, who directed the play and smash hit 2003 film Calendar Girls starring Helen Mirren and Julie Walters.
Barlow told the Standard: “I didn’t watch any musicals to prepare. Tim instructed me to just go from the heart and stick to what I do best and not become a West End writer.
“This is a very Northern show, this is kind of my childhood, the village is where I grew up and those women are like our mothers. It’s great hearing all the slang we used to say on the playground at school.”
The Girls follows the true story of a Women’s Institute group who decide to fundraise by posing for a raunchy calendar after the death of one of their husbands.
Barlow, 46, said: “The West End is such a competitive market, for a new British musical to become a hit is a really hard thing to do. We’re taking nothing for granted.”
Graham Norton, who presents Let it Shine, said: “It’s extraordinary to see something on its opening night in the West End as polished and as confident as this was. It was the one of the best Mondays I’ve had in a long time.”
Broadcaster John Sergeant, in the front row with wife Mary Smithies, said: “It’s a very tricky subject to tackle.
“Gary’s spirit and his tremendous force and energy pervaded the entire thing. There was just enough nudity — I was sitting very close which I can’t say if it’s a good or bad thing.”
The Girls is booking until April 22 . Visit phoenixtheatrelondon.co.uk for tickets.
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