Review - Fat Friends The Musical coming to Milton Keynes
For anyone who has been through the dieting process there is probably plenty to relate to in this musical.
Based on the television series of the same name, it sees the love and life of a slimming group in Headingly, Yorkshire. It sees the family of Kelly, who's aiming to get into her wedding dress and a slimming executive reckons she can help. But how far she will go.
There's everything in there for those who have been weight watching over the years. From church halls packed with over enthusiastic fitness instructors doing zumba to towns being full of sweet treats and deep fried heaven. I suspect there was a lot for audiences from the opening lines of the first song mentioning more food than we ever could.
But there is an overall message to take away embodied by Jodie Prenger's Kelly in that as long as you love yourself and feel happy with yourself, then perhaps there is no need to diet.
There is plenty of heart in this show in particular by Kelly and her mother Betty played by Sam Bailey despite their being only a two year age group between the two in real life. But even in the supporting characters, everyone is genuinely a good egg, and you feel some sympathy for all of them with all the characters being well rounded and lovable, something that writer Kay Mellor has been known for.
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The tension in the story comes from the ruthless Julia Fleshman portrayed on Monday night by Laura Mansell rather than the previously billed Atomic Kitten's Natasha Hamilton. Julia's a great villain of the piece, charming and giving hope to every woman initially but is actually a ruthless business woman underneath, completely loathsome and yet very believeable.
It isn't a perfect musical, I suspect that apart from the song Chocolate at the start of Act Two, will you remember many of the songs weeks after the show, and the set, while clever, had holes that the eagle eyed could have seen through to the wings. It was also perhaps 15 to 25 minutes too long.
But for a first musical by Kay Mellor, it's a warm and welcoming show with plenty to say about the world of dieting and there is quite a lot to enjoy.
Fat Friends The Musical can be seen at Milton Keynes Theatre until Saturday. Tickets for the show can be booked by calling the box office on 0844 871 7652 or visit www.atgtickets.co.uk/miltonkeynes.