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Theatre Review: Fat Friends the Musical - King's Theatre, Glasgow ✭✭✭


Based on the hit early 00s TV series of the same name, Fat Friends the Musical is written and directed by Kay Mellor who also created the TV series. With music by Nick Lloyd Webber this new musical explores the same themes as the original programme: love, friendship and of course, weight loss.

The musical focuses on the premise that Kelly (Jodie Prenger) is too hefty to fit into her dream wedding dress but she purchases the dress in too small size hoping to slim to fit the dress in six weeks. Following her mother Betty's (Elaine C Smith) failed attempt to win Super Slimmer of the year, Kelly's outburst on local TV goes viral presenting scheming Super Slimmers founder Julia Fleshman (Natasha Hamilton) with the advertising opportunity of a lifetime. The gauntlet is thrown down, do the diet and fit the dress and it's paid for. So will Kelly fit the dress?

This light-hearted look at the nation's obsession with its weight does come with challenging themes however it opens with a high energy zumba class with the participants obsessing over food they cannot have. The musical numbers come thick and fast and the lyrics although catchy in some places - Shake your bum bum, lose your tum tum - are simple and occasionally trite.  While the original TV show was created in pre-social media world, the musical faces difficult themes such as fat shaming and online trolling as well as the availability of dangerous diet pills that can be obtained online but cause a threat to life.

The outstanding cast work extremely hard with the material they have. Jodie Prenger is marvellous as brash yet big-hearted Kelly with Rachael Wooding perfectly cast as her quick-witted sister Joanne. Their relationship brings heart to the piece. Natasha Hamilton is excellent as the vile Julia Fleshman and Natalie Anderson's sweet group leader Lauren creates a beautiful sub-romance. Kevin Kennedy and Elaine C Smith are a great double act as Kelly and Joanne's parents. With such a talented ensemble it's easy to see how this is a fun night out.

However, the plot and score don't always meet creating peaks and troughs but we can all sympathise with Act II's "Chocolate" where clever costume and visual choices leave the audience craving for a popular purple chocolate brand!

Overall, Fat Friends the Musical is a sweet treat sure to entertain and certainly an uncomfortable reminder of the pressure put on people, regardless of weight, to fit a prescribed image.

Fat Friends is at the King's Theatre Glasgow until Saturday 5th May. For tickets and information visit ATG Tickets

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