Review: Fat Friends The Musical is huge fun

Jodie Prenger and Sam Bailey in Fat Friends. Photo: Helen Maybanks

Jodie Prenger and Sam Bailey in Fat Friends. Photo: Helen Maybanks - Credit: Helen Maybanks

The weight is over – Fat Friends The Musical is here, putting a big smile on faces at Norwich's Theatre Royal.

Fat Friends. Photo: Helen Maybanks

Fat Friends. Photo: Helen Maybanks - Credit: Helen Maybanks

The TV hit has been given a musical make-over by writer Kay Mellor to transform it into a very different entity but one which retains the programme's humour blended with serious comments about the dieting industry and attitudes to size.

There's a whole host of powerhouse singers on stage and lots of laughs - it will chime with anyone who has dieted!

Leading the cast is I'd Do Anything winner Jodie Prenger, last seen on this stage as Shirley Valentine - and here she shines again as Kelly who is desperate to lose weight in time for her wedding to Kevin.

X Factor winner Sam Bailey plays her yo-yo dieting mum. Their duet and then the hilarious, harmonious 'Chocolate' number with TV reporter Val (Chloe Hart) were highlights of the show.

Natalie Anderson and Jonathan Halliwell in Fat Friends. Photo: Helen Maybanks

Natalie Anderson and Jonathan Halliwell in Fat Friends. Photo: Helen Maybanks - Credit: Helen Maybanks

Natasha Hamilton (Atomic Kitten) missed the first night but it is hoped she will be well enough to return later in the week. Her role of slimming company founder Julia Fleshman was played by Laura Mansell on the first night. Another understudy who had to step into the spotlight that performance was Ryan Pidgen (who appeared here in Snow White about 10 years ago) as Kevin. Both understudies slotted into their roles very well.

Natalie Anderson (Emmerdale, Wicked) has a lovely voice, playing lovelorn Lauren who runs the local branch of Super Slimmers. And another former soap actor - Corrie legend Kevin 'Curly Watts' Kennedy plays Kelly's dad.

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Kay Mellor not only wrote the play and lyrics (some very to the point!) but also directed it, while the music was composed by Nick Lloyd Webber, son of Andrew.

It was nice to hear a live band but I felt it overpowered the opening song so some of the lyrics couldn't be heard, thankfully other numbers were unaffected.

Neil Hurst and Kevin Kennedy in Fat Friends. Photo: Helen Maybanks

Neil Hurst and Kevin Kennedy in Fat Friends. Photo: Helen Maybanks - Credit: Helen Maybanks

The set suited the production perfectly with a slightly cartoonish feel - with buildings on the huh. The way the front of the wedding shop swings open to reveal the interior was very slick.

Fat Friends is fun, with a hen/stag do feel about it - and it's a refreshing change to see bigger physiques on stage.

Neil Hurst and Natalie Anderson in Fat Friends. Photo: Helen Maybanks

Neil Hurst and Natalie Anderson in Fat Friends. Photo: Helen Maybanks - Credit: Helen Maybanks

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