Fat Friends UK Tour (Leeds) Review
Hellooo! Today I went over to the Leeds Grand Theatre to see the matinee performance of Fat Friends The Musical! I went into the show only knowing the cast and that the show was about a weight loss group so I didn't really have any expectations.
I sat in seat CC 32 in the Balcony which was marked as a Restricted View seat and whilst it was restricted, I'd say it was only as restricted as where I sat for Evita (Upper Circle B 36) which was a pricier ticket. The restricted view seats for this performance were £21 including booking fees and all that so I thought I'd see just how restricted they were! One note about the Leeds Grand is that the seats are very close together or at least, they are in the upper circle and balcony.
The set was pretty simple though I did like how the dress shop opened up to change the stage from showing the street to showing inside the shop. The costumes were also pretty simple but the show didn't need elaborate sets and costumes as the story was focused on the characters and their progression rather than their surroundings if that makes any sense! Oh and the audience were incredible! It was the liveliest audience I've been part of in a while and I loved it! Everyone was cheering and laughing and it was just great to be a part of it!
Speaking of the characters, let's get into the cast! I'm not going to lie, the main reason I wanted to see the show was because the cast line up was an impressive one! First up, Jodie Prenger starred as Kelly, a bride to be wanting to shed some pounds before her wedding day. She was fearless throughout her performance as the outspoken character and played her perfectly. Her husband to be, Kevin, was played by Andrew "Freddie" Flintoff who I was surprised to see on the casting line up! His acting was spot on for the role and more than made up for the fact that he wasn't the strongest singer on the stage. Kelly's mother Betty, a star in her weight loss group, was played by Sam Bailey who was just incredible! Her voice was so effortless and she suited the role perfectly! Next up, Kelly's chippy owner Dad Fergus was played by Kevin Kennedy who again, suited the role so well! Basically the theme of this section is that the casting team did an amazing job! The weight loss group leader, Lauren, was played by Natalie Anderson who has such a beautiful voice!
Growing up, I was a big Atomic Kitten fan so the fact that the owner of the chain of weight loss groups, Julia Fleshman, was played by Natasha Hamilton made me VERY excited! While she wasn't in it too much, when she was, her voice did not disappoint and she played the stern businesswoman spot on! Younger me would be very happy right now! Next up, Rachael Wooding played Kelly's sister Joanna which I was pretty excited about! The last time I saw her was as Alice when I saw Wonderland in Grimsby and it was interesting to see her in a completely different role. Her voice was spot on yet again but her comedic timing throughout the show was perfect! She was just hilarious really! The way her character was written and the way she delivered the lines was faultless. Rachael also played Julia's assistant Pippa, who brought even more laughs to the show. The rest of the cast were all incredible too!
I loved the show as a whole and I loved just how northern it was! I'm from Cleethorpes (which got a cheeky mention in the show) and most shows feature well-spoken southern accents rather than northern so it was refreshing to feel right at home in a show. Having said that, The Band is pretty northern but being set in Headingley, I don't think Fat Friends could be more northern! I loved all the northern catchphrases and quotes throughout the show and the character of Val, a presenter for Look North! While this went down a treat in Leeds, I'm not sure how it would go down in the South where they might not get some of the references.
Overall, Fat Friends was an uplifting escape from the nightmare that is final year of University and I would definitely recommend it! The cast alone is reason enough to buy a ticket but the show is also incredible! There were a couple of songs that I particularly enjoyed with one being a duet between Kelly and her mother and another being a duet between Lauren and her love interest Paul! My stand out performers have to be Natalie Anderson and Sam Bailey who's voices are just incredible along with Rachael Wooding for her flawless comedic presence. Oh and I also love the branding! I mean who doesn't love donuts!
Thanks for reading! Sophie