When Fat Friends the Musical was announced – I had mixed feelings; from the subject matter to the star-studded cast, I questioned if it was crazy or genius. I wasn’t familiar with the original TV series, nor much of Kay Mellor’s work, but something about it made it hard for me to ignore the urge to buy a ticket to see what it was all about when it hit the Norwich Theatre Royal.
If like me, the TV show had passed you by, the story focuses on a group of family and friends who are putting themselves through their paces at a local Super Slimmers club in a bid to lose weight through Zumba and fad diets, the club of which is run by the lovelorn Lauren (Natalie Anderson). Meanwhile, Kelly (Jodie Prenger) is stuck fantasizing about fitting into the wedding dress of her dreams, and wondering if she can do enough to make it happen in just 6 weeks.
The story is full of heart and laughter. At first, I was dubious at the subject matter seemingly promoting that bigger is better – because while I have no issue with it (I mean, I’m not exactly small myself), its scientific fact that it can be dangerously unhealthy in the majority of cases. However, as the tale unfolded I think it showcases a great reality of the struggles in modern society of the pressures to look perfect and what lengths we are willing to go to for it. The message it leaves you with is that as long as you love yourself and are fully satisfied, who cares? It’s your life and your choice.
The music slots in smoothly with the script, and showcases some hilarious and fun songs. Diets Are Crap, Chocolate and Beautiful being particular highlights. The set was quite creative and comical. The costumes as loud and crazy as their characters, but the audience loved it!
Speaking of which, the cast is wonderful. This is the third show I’ve seen Jodie Prenger in, and each time she seems to get better. Sam Bailey took me by complete surprise, she really fits the stage. Joel Montague alternates the role of Kevin with Freddie Flintoff, and after seeing him a couple of times stand-out as a gay dad in School of Rock it was great to see him again but this time in a more prominent role. It was lovely to see former Kinky Boots ensemble members Chloe Hart and Emma Crossley stepping into more prominent roles too. Natalie Anderson is also a charm. It was great to have a fine mix of both star and theatre names – and everyone did a cracking job, and brought heaps of energy and fun to Norwich.
Overall, it’s not necessarily going to be the next big thing (no pun intended), but it’s certainly full of warmth, love, and laughter. There’s no denying it makes a great night out.
For more information and the final few tour dates visit www.fatfriendsthemusical.com.