The U.K. TV series Fat Friends is being turned into a stage musical that will be written and directed by Kay Mellor and scored by Nicholas Lloyd Webber, son of Andrew Lloyd Webber. Fat Friends The Musical will begin performances at the Grand Theatre in Leeds November 7, for a run through December 2, and it will star Jodie Prenger the role of Kelly Stevenson.
Presented by Joshua Andrews and Adam Spiegel, it is planned to embark on an extensive UK tour in 2018, with full tour dates and venues still to be announced.
The ITV series ran for five years after debuting in October 2000. It follows the lives of a group of overweight friends struggling with the absurdities of modern dieting, as they are put through their Zumba paces at their local branch of the Super Slim weight loss program by the lovelorn Lauren while Kelly fantasizes about fitting into the wedding dress of her dreams. The TV series featured Alison Steadman, Sheridan Smith, and Lisa Riley and helped to launch the careers of James Corden and Ruth Jones.
In a press statement, Kay Mellor, who wrote the original series, commented, “About once or twice a week I get asked if Fat Friends is going to come back on the television. I’m always flattered that people loved the characters and premise. It ran for four [seasons] with a Christmas special and although I felt it had run its course on television, I always secretly thought there could be a musical using those characters and looking at weight. It’s such a topical subject matter, more so today than ever. Everybody you meet is on some kind of diet or knows someone on a diet. The musical is funny and sad with a big story and some meaty and memorable songs. I’m blessed to have the opportunity to work with Nick Loyd Webber who absolutely gets my characters and world. Together I think we’ve created something rather unique. I’m absolutely delighted and thrilled for the premiere of Fat Friends The Musical to be held at Leeds Grand Theatre. Not only is Leeds my home town, but it’s where I set the television series and the stage musical. I love Leeds with a passion and the people of Leeds inspire me every day, so it fills me with pride to know that the musical will be seen by the people of Leeds before it goes on a national tour in 2018.”
Mellor’s other series include Band of Gold, The Syndicate and In The Club. She also wrote a hit stage version of her TV play A Passionate Woman. She has acted in Three Girls in Blue and she wrote and starred in the one-woman show Queen at the West Yorkshire Playhouse.
Lloyd Webber’s previous credits include collaborating with James D. Reid to write the music, book and lyrics for The Little Prince, which premiered at Theatre Calgary followed by a full symphonic version at the Abu Dhabi Festival with the Heritage Orchestra in 2016. He has also scored music for the Oxford Shakespeare Company's productions of Twelfth Night, As You Like It, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, The Tempest, and Love's Labour’s Lost. His film and television credits include Mr. Invisible (2013), Homecoming (2003), and Mon Amour Mon Parapluie (2001).
Prenger is best known for winning the TV contest I'd Do Anything to play the role of Nancy in the 2010 London revival of Oliver! at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane. Other stage credits include The Lady of the Lake in the Spamalot U.K. tour and in the West End at the Playhouse Theatre, and Dolly in the National Theatre’s production of One Man, Two Guvnors at the Theatre Royal Haymarket. She has also toured in Calamity Jane and Tell Me on a Sunday.
The production will be designed by Bretta Gerecke with musical supervision, orchestrations and arrangements by Simon Lee.
To book tickets, which go on general sale January 25, contact the box office on 0844 848 2700 or visit leedsgrandtheatre.com.