Fat Friends The Musical

Apr 20 2018 | By More

★★★☆☆ Feel-good fun

Playhouse: Thurs 19 – Sat 21 April 2018
Review by Sarah Moyes

It’s been almost 20 years since Fat Friends burst onto our TV screens, but its back in the form of an entertaining touring musical making its Scottish debut at the Playhouse this week.

The TV show has been adapted for stage by Kay Mellor, who wrote and directed the TV series, with original music by Nick (son of Andrew) Lloyd Webber. Set in Leeds, the story follows the much-loved characters Kelly and Kevin during the lead-up to their wedding.

Jodie Prenger and Elaine C Smith. Pic: Helen Maybanks.jpg

After buying her dream wedding dress two sizes too small, Kelly is on a mission to lose weight with the help of her yoyo dieting mum Betty, chip shop owner dad Fergus and Super Slimmers boss Julie Fleshman – who slips her some diet pills to help her along.

Jodie Prenger leads the all-star cast as the loud and loveable Kelly. Jodie is a complete natural on stage and gives a fantastic performance full of warmth, humour and superb singing. Her adorable yet slightly idiotic husband Kevin is played by Joel Montague, who puts in a strong performance.

Her mum, Betty, is played by everyone’s favourite Scottish actress Elaine C Smith with Coronation Street’s Kevin Kennedy as her dad Fergus. Both put in solid performances, but given the breadth of Elaine’s comedic experience, you can’t help but wish she was had been given funnier lines to deliver.

There are also roles for Atomic Kitten’s Natasha Hamilton as super diva and slimming guru Julie. While her role is small, she proves she can make the transition from pop star to musical star seamlessly. Emmerdale and Wicked star Natalie Anderson shines as bridal shop owner and slimming group leader Lauren who is hopelessly in love with the adorable vicar Paul played by Jonathan Halliwell.

hilarious and witty

Rachael Wooding may not have as recognisable a name as others in the cast, but her hilarious and witty performance as Kelly’s sister Joanne makes her a favourite among the audience as she bickers with her sister, a situation anyone with a sibling will be familiar with.

Natalie Anderson and Jonathan Halliwell. Pic: Helen Maybanks

One thing that lets the show down is the music. The songs are nice, but most are instantly forgettable. In the first act, we’re treated to songs about fish and chips and corsets, and while they might be amusing at the time, they hardly make you want to rush out and buy the soundtrack.

However, in amongst the mediocre, there are two stand out moments. Anderson and Halliwell give a heart-warming performance of Mr. Someone, the duet between Lauren and Paul; and I’d Do Anything winner Jodie Prenger shows off her stunning vocal range when she closes the first act with Beautiful.

The set design by Bretta Gerecke of row of shops (mostly takeaways and cake shops) is clever and colourful. They open up like doll’s houses to expand the interiors of the buildings. She also uses the upper windows of the buildings for the ensemble to appear when joining in some of the musical numbers.

Fat Friends The Musical might not be the kind of show you see over and over again, but if you’re looking for a fun, feel-good night out then you can’t go too far wrong with what is an enjoyable production.

Running Times – 2 hours 40 mins (including interval)
Edinburgh Playhouse, 18 – 22 Greenside Place, EH1 3AA. Phone booking: 0844 871 3014
Evenings: 7.30pm; Sat matinee: 2.30pm.
Tickets and details: www.atgtickets.com/shows/fat-friends-the-musical/edinburgh-playhouse/

Show website: www.fatfriendsthemusical.com.
Facebook: @fatfriendsthemusical
Twitter: @FatFriendsShow #FatFriendsOnTour

Fat Friends the Musical on tour 2018:
Thu 19 – Sun 21 Apr Edinburgh
0844 871 3014 Book online
Tue 24 – Sat 28 Apr Cardiff
Wales Millennium Centre
029 2063 6464 Book online
Mon 30 Apr – Sat 5 May Glasgow
King’s Theatre
0844 871 7648 Book online
Tue 8 – Sat 12 May Belfast
Grand Opera House
028 9024 1919 Book online
Mon 14 – Sat 19 May Bradford
Alhambra Theatre
01274 432000 Book online
Mon 21 – Sat 26 May Aberdeen
His Majesty’s Theatre
01224 641122 Book online
Tue 29 May – Sat 2 June Blackpool
Winter Gardens
0844 856 1111 Book online

Joel Montague and Jodie Prenger. Pic Helen Maybanks


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