AJ WEBSTER was a virtual unknown when he took part in Let It Shine, the primetime BBC show which set out to find a new boyband to star in musical featuring the music of Take That.

How things have changed! For the past 16 months, AJ and his fellow Five to Five bandmates have been touring the country, they’ve made their West End debuts and are on first name terms with Gary Barlow, Mark Owen and Howard Donald.

Next week, The Band opens at The Lowry, Salford Quays, on the final leg of a major UK tour - it will finally end its run in March.

“It’s been a real whirlwind for us all,” said AJ, “and definitely something that none of us will ever forget.”

The Band has played to packed houses all over the UK, including an extended run at the Haymarket Theatre in London over Christmas.

Featuring the songs of Take That, it’s a story of friendship as a group of schoolmates meet up after 25 years determined to see the band they loved in their youth play live.

“I think around 70 to 80 per cent of people who come to watch our show have never been to the theatre before which is really exciting for us,” said AJ.

“It’s fantastic that the show is bringing a new audience to the theatre.

The Band, written by Tim Firth and co-produced by Take That, has certainly surprised audiences.

“I think a lot lot of people aren’t expecting what they see,” said AJ. “They may be expecting a jukebox musical which is the story of Take That but it is so far removed from that.

“The story is so relatable. A lot of the audience were around when Take That formed but anyone who has had a strong musical influence in their lives can relate to it. and that has a big impact on the audience.”

Five to Five play the Band in the show which involves singing many of Take That’s classic hits.

“Because we are performing every night and have been for so long you tend to forget how big Take That really are,” said AJ. “It was only when they released their new album recently and were suddenly everywhere that you realise how special it is to be so closely involved with them.”

Five to Five were born via Let it Shine and AJ admits they have been on a massive learning curve ever since.

“We’ve learned so much both as a band and as individuals,” he said. “For me, I always want to develop and this has been a great opportunity to learn on the job. It’s been such a long process as we have been there from the initial workshops to West End stage - it’s incredible how far it’s come.”

A noticeable feature about The Band is that the whole cast and majority of the crew have been involved in the show from the beginning.

“We are very lucky that we have got a cast that get on so well,” said AJ. “Occasionally you may be having a bad day but we’re like a band of brothers. We all know each other’s limits, we know when someone needs five minutes but we’re still going strong and we’re happy being on the road.”

So what does the future hold for AJ and Five to Five after The Band?

“Who knows?” he laughed. “At end of the day we have all got our individual dreams and thoughts on where we’d like to go but we are also a band with a fanbase I think there are endless opportunities. It’s just a case of seeing what happens when we get to March.”

The Band, The Lowry, Salford Quays, Wednesday, January 16 to Saturday, January 26. Details from 0843 208 6005 or www.thelowry.com