(4 / 5)
Fat Friends The Musical brings fun, laughter, hopes, dreams and a range of talented voices to the stage of the Wales Millennium Centre, Cardiff.
Originally written for the small screen, Fat Friends effortlessly transfers to a stage musical with a timeless story of love and romance, centered around the all consuming trials and tribulations of diet goals, body image and the search for true love.
Created by the talented Kay Mellor, the characters of Kelly, Kevin, Betty, Fergus, Lauren, Val, Paul and Alan are brought to life once more and this time with song.
All Mellor’s characters are larger than life in every way and the hilarious story-line is both engaging and true to life. Far too often people put their lives on hold whilst they try to achieve their goals in dealing with weight and body image. Mellor shows us that this is a fruitless exercise and that life is for the living and quite often what you seek is indeed right under your nose, you just have to open your eyes and look.
Nick Lloyd Webber’s original music score partnered with Mellor’s lyrics give the characters voices to match the entertaining story-line. The powerful vocal performances add to the larger than life characters feel so familiar.
Jodie Prenger gives a credible performance as Kelly and her energy on stage is breathtaking. Kelly’s intervention in her mother’s television interview is the funniest thing I think I have ever seen. All the things we would like to say and do but society and convention prevent us. “Let it go!” However, be aware there are always consequences as Kelly discovers.
Sam Bailey plays Kelly’s mother, Betty, a seasoned dieter and a long standing member of the slimming club. She is married to Fergus and is very much the mother figure of the group taking Alan in hand over his diet whilst his wife is away.
There is also a hillarious fantasy scene which brought the house down. Feel assured that this really is a musical where you felt that the cast are enjoying the experience as much as the audience.
Natalie Anderson and Jonathan Halliwell are delightful as they portray Slimming Club leader, Lauren and Vicar, Paul. It is hard to watch as they struggle to overcome their lack of confidence, self-esteem and awkwardness. Their duets are wonderful and their chemistry believable, nevertheless you can feel the audience willing them to take the next step forward without looking back despite their social and cultural differences.
The Set and Costume Design is by the awarding winning designer, Bretta Gerecke and is outstanding. Centered around a row of buildings the exterior and interior of the dress shop is realistic and charming. Nick Richings lighting design is a triumph both with the neon foreground on the buildings but also bringing them to life. The clever use of the lighting in the background on the sky-line added atmosphere for both day and night.
The whole cast, including the talented ensemble of wonderful voices, gave a high impact, fast moving and hillarious night.
During the closing number ‘Love who you are’ it didn’t take much encouragement from the cast to raise the audience to their feet to join them in celebrating this triumph of a musical.
This is a musical to see in the company of friends, large or small, young or old, married or single. You will enjoy a entertaining time packed with fun and laughter, a guaranteed night to remember.