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Fat Friends the Musical at Kings Theatre, Glasgow

Published by: Cameron Lowe on 1st May 2018 | View all blogs by Cameron Lowe

The successful ITV drama “Fat Friends” gets a musical makeover in this UK Touring production starring Jodie Prenger in the lead role.


Kelly (powerfully voiced by Jodie Prenger) is getting married in 6 weeks and is deeply in love with fiancé, Kevin (Joel Montague).  She rashly choses a wedding dress which is two sizes too small and, so, embarks on a mission to join her many friends and family in the pursuit of weight loss.  At the local Super-Slimmers club, she is challenged to hit her weight-loss target by company boss Julia Fleshman (played to extract maximum fun from being the ‘baddie’ by Natasha Hamilton).  But Julia will stop at nothing to get publicity from Kelly’s successful weight loss on her diet plan …   

The principal cast is very strong in this production with Jodie Prenger an excellent lead as a down-to-earth and likeable Northern lass; albeit under a loud-mouthed exterior.  Kelly has surrounded herself with some very talented voices, too.  Veterans Elaine C. Smith and Kevin Kennedy convey themselves well as Mum and Dad and Rachael Wooding and Joel Montague add some lovely character traits to soaring vocals as Sister and Fiancé, Joanne and Kevin.  The secondary narrative of blossoming love between Lauren (Natalie Anderson) and Paul (Jonathan Halliwell) is cutely portrayed and beautifully sung. Even fringe characters from Neil Hurst and Chloe Hart added lovely vocals to the mix – at some points, astonishing!  Combine all this on-stage talent with fresh tunes from Nick Lloyd Webber (the name does sound familiar, doesn’t it?) and you have one of the best sounding musicals around!

Where this show was below par was actually one of the biggest draws to bring me to see it in the first place.  Written and directed by Kay Mellor, one of the most successful UK TV drama writers of our time; I arrived expecting something very special from this very talented pen.  Sadly, the show lacked pace.  Being 30 minutes too long I felt quite disengaged from the story by the end.  I thought that Lauren and Paul’s characters were too innocent and nervous and their excellent duet came too soon in the show for all that emotion.  I also couldn’t see any reason for Rachael Wooding’s duel casting as Pippa (Julia’s mousey sidekick) – albeit that she was very good in both roles.  On the plus side, the characters were well defined and bigger issues like ‘body image’, media pressure to conform to stereotypes like ‘slim bride’ and ‘internet trolls’ were tackled adding more depth.  I would have cut 2 songs and 20 minutes of dialog, though.

This show is not perfect but has a lot of redeeming features in the score and on stage.  Nothing that a good dramaturg couldn’t sort out for a second tour!

Fat Friends The Musical – King’s Theatre, Glasgow

30 April – 5 May 2018

Evenings 19:30, Matinees 14:30 (Wed, Sat)

Tickets £16.50 - £62.50

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