Fifteen years on since the iconic TV show Fat Friends hit our television screens, Kay Mellor has brought the characters back to life in this uplifting musical production. Bursting with catchy musical numbers, exquisite humour and tremendous casting, it truly displays the relatable ups and downs of dieting.
Set in Headingley in Leeds, the tight-knit community is anticipating the ‘Slimmer of the Year’ competition. We follow the story of the slimming group as they tackle the trials and tribulations of weight loss. As the action shifts from the local chippy, to the wedding dress shop and the church hall, the sense of community spirit seeps through this heart-warming story.
Jodie Prenger takes on the role of Kelly, a young girl who is recently engaged and falls in love with the dress hanging up in the local wedding shop. When she tries it on, it dawns on her that she isn’t going to fit into her dream dress. Celebrating the fact she is plus size, she accidentally commits to attempting to lose 2 stone and embarks on a weight loss mission with the local slimming group.
Jodie brings huge amounts of genuine warmth and first-rate comedy timing creates a character you really connect with. Alongside her remarkable vocals, she encapsulates the character of Kelly through charisma and commanding stage presence. Her chemistry with other cast members is endearing, particularly with her fiancé Kevin (Andrew Flintoff) as she captures their tender moments beautifully.
Playing her Kelly’s mother is Sam Bailey, we are already aware of her stellar vocals but she plays the role of the loving, supportive mother superbly. Similarly, Natalie Anderson is sweet and entirely likeable as Lauren who encourages Kelly along with her weight loss journey, she has some gorgeous moments that showcase her sublime vocals.
Rachel Wooding impresses as both Kelly’s irritating younger sister Joanne, who is constantly spurting witty jokes and sarcasm towards Kelly and Julia Fleshman’s awkward assistant Pippa. Wooding shines in both roles making her almost unrecognisable as she slips into each one seamlessly bringing immense humour and characterisation.
Probably the oddest stunt casting of all time, I was surprised to find out cricket player Andrew “Freddie” Flintoff takes on the role of Kelly’s finané Kevin. However, pleasantly suprised he gives a performance that is charged with humour, portraying the dim-witted persona of the role brilliantly.
Exploring the universal themes of body image, love and family, Fat Friends is a charming musical that boasts excellent characterisation and vibrant musical numbers that are bursting with wit. It’s a guaranteed giggle as Kay Mellor’s musical adaptation proves to be a sweet treat!
Fat Friends the Musical is on at the Manchester Opera House until the 24th of March, tickets and information can be found here.