Full casting announced for Fat Friends the Musical

The first image of the Fat Friends the Musical family has been released, as full casting for Kay Mellor’s new musical is unveiled. Fat Friends the Musical will premiere at Leeds Grand this November with an extensive UK tour to follow in 2018. Joining the previously announced cast, Natasha Hamilton (Atomic Kitten) will take on the role of Julia, Kevin Kennedy(Coronation Street) stars as Fergus and Rachael Wooding (We Will Rock You) appears as Joanne, alongside Jonathan Halliwell (Let It Shine) as Paul and Chloe Hart (Hairspray) as Val. Alan will be played by Neil Hurst, one of dozens of Yorkshiremen who applied for the role through an open audition call.

Also newly announced, What’s On Stage Award nominee Joel Montague, who recently starred alongside Sheridan Smith in Funny Girl, will share the role of Kevin with Andrew ‘Freddie’ Flintoff. Freddie will appear in Leeds, Southampton, Sheffield, Manchester, Birmingham, Bradford and Blackpool with Joel completing the remaining tour dates.

Futher cast includes: Craig Armstrong, Lizzie Bea, Paul Brangan, Emma Crossley, Ellie Leah, Laura Manselland Ryan Pidgen. As previously announced, the cast is completed by Jodie Prenger and Natalie Anderson with Sam Bailey and Elaine C. Smith sharing the role of Betty.

Natasha Hamilton is best known for being one third of one of the UK’s most internationally successful girl groups of the last decade, Atomic Kitten. On stage she has starred as Mrs Johnston in Blood Brothers (Phoenix Theatre) and Rent (Touring).

Kevin Kennedy is most recognised for his 20-year portrayal of Norman ‘Curly’ Watts in ITV’s flagship soap Coronation Street (1983-2003). His theatre credits include Chicago (Adelphi Theatre), We Will Rock You (Dominion Theatre), Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (international tour), Hamlet (Sheffield Crucible) and Ducking Out (Duke of York’s).

Rachael Wooding’s leading stage credits include We Will Rock You (Dominion Theatre), Jersey Boys (Prince Edward Theatre), Hairpsray (Shaftsbury Theatre) Evita (UK Tour) and most recently she starred in the UK Tour of Wonderland and Street of Dreams. Television and film credits include Coronation Street (ITV), Doctors (BBC).

Joel Montague is currently appearing in School of Rock at the New London Theatre. He has an extensive stage career including Funny Girl (Savoy Theatre and Menier Chocolate Factory) for which he was nominated for the What’s On Stage Award for Best Supporting Actor in a Musical, The Producers (UK Tour), Urinetown (Apollo Theatre and St James Theatre), Rocky Horror Picture Show (UK Tour), and Tommy in Concert (Prince Edward Theatre).

Jonathan Halliwell was a finalist in the BBC contest, Let It Shine and will appear on screen in Kay Mellor’s upcoming BBC drama Love, Lies and Records. For stage he has appeared in White Christmas (Dominion Theatre).

Chloe Hart has appeared in Kinky Boots (Adelphi Theatre), A Damsel in Distress (Chichester Festival Theatre), Wicked (Victoria Palace), Les Miserables (Queens Theatre) and led the West End cast of Hairspray (Shaftesbury Theatre).

Neil Hurst started his career in Musical Theatre in shows such as EvitaJoseph and his Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat and Me and My Girl.  His most recent theatre work includes Gaudete for French theatre company Obra and The Cowardly Lion in The Wizard of Oz. In television, Neil recently played the role of Gary Plunkett in BBC’s Home from Home. Other credits include The 4 O’Clock Club; The Jacksons; The Syndicate and Fresh Meat. Neil also played Vernon Kay’s comedy sidekick in several series of ITV’s All Star Family Fortunes.

Fat Friends, the award winning TV drama has been adapted for the stage by its creator and one of the UK’s most prolific writers, Kay Mellor, whose extensive television credits include hit series of Band of Gold, The Chase, The Syndicate, In the Club and whose stage credits include A Passionate Woman. 

Produced by Joshua Andrews and Adam Spiegel, with original music and songs composed by Nicholas Lloyd Webber, Fat Friends – The Musical will open at Leeds Grand Theatre in November ahead of an extensive UK tour, visiting Bromley, Newcastle, Hull, Southampton, Sheffield, Southend, Milton Keynes, Norwich, Manchester, Nottingham, Birmingham, Dartford, Edinburgh, Cardiff, Glasgow, Belfast, Bradford, Aberdeen and Blackpool.

Fat Friends – the Musical is designed by Bretta Gerecke with choreography by Karen Bruce, musical supervision, orchestrations and arrangements from Simon Lee, sound design by two time Olivier Award winning Gareth Owen and lighting design from Tony Award nominated Nick Richings, Fat Friends – The Musical, sees the nation’s favourite group of dieters reunited as this new show bursts on to the stage.

The ‘weight’ is over; Packed full of warmth, life and weight loss, this brand new stage show reunites our favourite foodie friends in an original musical bulging with hopes, humour and heart. Join the infamous group of loveable characters as they are put through their Zumba paces at their local branch of Super Slimmer’s by the lovelorn Lauren whilst Kelly fantasises about fitting into the wedding dress of her dreams. Fat Friends offers a generous serving of hilarious fun with a sprinkle of romance on top!

Fat Friends hit television screens in October 2000, following the lives of a group of overweight friends as they struggle with the absurdities of modern dieting. Entertaining millions of viewers for five years on ITV, the show starred Alison Steadman, Gaynor Faye and Lisa Riley and launched the careers of James Corden and Ruth Jones. Written by Kay Mellor, the show was nominated for multiple awards including the BAFTA for Best Drama Series.

www.fatfriendsthemusical.com

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Natalie Anderson joins Freddie Flintoff, Jodie Prenger and Sam Bailey in Fat Friends

Emmerdale and The Royal star Natalie Anderson will join the cast of Fat Friends – The Musical. Natalie has appeared in numerous other television programmes including Wire in the Blood and The Biz. She also appeared as Nessarose in Wicked in the West End as well as Lady Capulet in Romeo and Juliet at West Yorkshire Playhouse and Tara in Exposure The Musical at St James’ Theatre. She will perform the role of Lauren in Fat Friends – The Musical, originated on-screen by Emmerdale co-star Gaynor Faye.

The award-winning TV drama has been adapted for the stage by its creator and one of the UK’s most prolific writers, Kay Mellor, whose extensive television credits include hit series of Band of Gold, The Chase, The Syndicate, In the Club and whose stage credits include A Passionate Woman. The award-winning Jodie Prenger will lead the company in the beloved role of Kelly Stevenson. She is joined by Sam Bailey, Elaine C Smith and Andrew ‘Freddie’ Flintoff with further casting still to be announced.

Natalie Anderson said “I’m so thrilled to be playing Lauren in Fat Friends the Musical. I was a huge fan of the original series and cannot wait to bring it to life on stage. I’m also equally excited to be working with the incredible Kay Mellor whom, from an early age, I have greatly admired and been inspired by.”

Kay Mellor said “I am absolutely delighted to be working with fellow northerner Natalie. I thought of her instantly for the role of Lauren and she brought me to tears at her audition with her acting and singing talent.” 

The ‘weight’ is over; Packed full of warmth, life and weight loss, his brand-new stage show reunites our favourite foodie friends in an original musical bulging with hopes, humour and heart. Join the infamous group of loveable characters as they are put through their Zumba paces at their local branch of Super Slimmer’s by the lovelorn Lauren whilst Kelly fantasises about fitting into the wedding dress of her dreams. Fat Friends offers a generous serving of hilarious fun with a sprinkle of romance on top!

Produced by Joshua Andrews and Adam Spiegel, Fat Friends – The Musical will open at Leeds Grand Theatre in November ahead of an extensive UK tour, visiting Bromley, Newcastle, Hull, Southampton, Sheffield, Southend, Milton Keynes, Norwich, Manchester, Nottingham, Birmingham, Dartford, Edinburgh, Cardiff, Glasgow, Bradford, Aberdeen and Blackpool.

With original music and songs composed by Nicholas Lloyd Webber, designed by Bretta Gerecke, choreography by Karen Bruce, musical supervision, orchestrations and arrangements from Simon Lee, sound design by two time Olivier Award winning Gareth Owen and lighting design from Tony Award nominated Nick Richings, Fat Friends – The Musical, sees the nation’s favourite group of dieters reunited as this new show bursts on to the stage.

Fat Friends hit television screens in October 2000, following the lives of a group of overweight friends as they struggle with the absurdities of modern dieting. Running for five years on ITV, the show starred Alison Steadman, Gaynor Faye and Lisa Riley and launched the careers of James Corden and Ruth Jones. Written by Kay Mellor, the show was nominated for multiple awards including the BAFTA for Best Drama Series.

Dates and venues for the tour can be found online: www.fatfriendsthemusical.com

Andrew “Freddie” Flintoff to make stage debut in Fat Friends – The Musical

Former England cricket captain, and star of SKY’s League of Their Own, Andrew “Freddie” Flintoff will swap the cricket pitch to tread the boards as he joins an all star cast for the world premiere of Kay Mellor’s Fat Friends – the Musical. Freddie will play Kevin Chadwick opposite the previously announced, Jodie Prenger as his fiancée, Kelly. Freddie takes to the stage for the first time on 7thNovember 2017 as Fat Friends – the Musical opens at Leeds Grand Theatre. He will then tour with the production to Southampton, Sheffield, Manchester, Birmingham, Bradford and Blackpool.

One of the world’s most recognised cricket stars, Freddie Flintoff won the BBC Sports Personality of the Year award in 2005 after playing a pivotal role in regaining the Ashes from Australia. Since the Lancashire Lad’s cricket career ended in 2010, he has forged a career as a much loved presenter and broadcaster. Appearing as a captain on Sky’s A League of Their Own, being crowned King of the Jungle in the first Australian version of I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here!, Freddie has also launched a clothing range ‘Flintoff by Jacamo’. Having just filmed a part in Kay Mellor’s new ITV series, this role will see Freddie continue to affirm his acting credentials after bowling over the show’s creator, Kay Mellor and composer Nicholas Lloyd Webber during auditions!

Freddie Flintoff said: “I am really excited to be starring in Fat Friends – The Musical at Leeds Grand in November and at some other great venues around the UK in 2018. Having had the pleasure of recently working on an episode of Kay’s latest TV series, it’s great to have the opportunity to work with her again. I loved the TV series and think Fat Friends – The Musical, is going to give people a great night out. I’m really looking forward to it.”

Kay Mellor said: “I was introduced to Freddie at one of our TV casting sessions – it was clear to me that he could leave his cricket bat behind, embody a character, and understand the drama. It was a no brainer… he got the part. Then, as we were talking through Fat Friends – The Musical, I wondered if Freddie could sing. I was ecstatic when Nick met him and agreed his voice was perfect for the role. I am thrilled and delighted that Freddie is able to join us for our run at Leeds and part of the tour as well, playing our leading male and fiancee to Kelly played by Jodie Prenger. I can’t wait to start working with the super talented cast we’ve got so far!”

Nicholas Lloyd Webber said: “I am thrilled that Freddie will be joining our stellar cast of Fat Friends – the Musical. He immediately really impressed us in his audition and we are so excited to be working with him on our show. Our starting XI is now nothing short of sensational.”

The award winning TV drama has been adapted for the stage by its creator and one of the UK’s most prolific writers, Kay Mellor, whose extensive television credits include hit series of Band of Gold, The Chase, The Syndicate, In the Club and whose stage credits include A Passionate Woman. Freddie joins the award winning Jodie Prenger and X-Factor winner Sam Bailey with further casting to be announced.

Produced by Joshua Andrews and Adam Spiegel, with original music and songs composed by Nicholas Lloyd Webber, Fat Friends – The Musical will open at Leeds Grand Theatre in November ahead of an extensive UK tour, visiting Bromley, Newcastle, Hull, Southampton, Sheffield, Southend, Milton Keynes, Norwich, Manchester, Nottingham, Birmingham, Dartford, Edinburgh, Cardiff, Glasgow, Bradford, Aberdeen and Blackpool.

Fat Friends – the Musical is designed by Bretta Gerecke with choreography by Karen Bruce, musical supervision, orchestrations and arrangements from Simon Lee, sound design by two time Olivier Award winning Gareth Owen and lighting design from Tony Award nominated Nick Richings, Fat Friends – The Musical, sees the nation’s favourite group of dieters reunited as this new show bursts on to the stage.

The ‘weight’ is over; Packed full of warmth, life and weight loss, this brand new stage show reunites our favourite foodie friends in an original musical bulging with hopes, humour and heart. Join the infamous group of loveable characters as they are put through their Zumba paces at their local branch of Super Slimmer’s by the lovelorn Lauren whilst Kelly fantasises about fitting into the wedding dress of her dreams. Fat Friends offers a generous serving of hilarious fun with a sprinkle of romance on top!

Fat Friends hit television screens in October 2000, following the lives of a group of overweight friends as they struggle with the absurdities of modern dieting. Running for five years on ITV, the show starred Alison Steadman, Gaynor Faye and Lisa Riley and launched the careers of James Corden and Ruth Jones. Written by Kay Mellor, the show was nominated for multiple awards including the BAFTA for Best Drama Series.

Online: www.fatfriendsthemusical.com

Zoë Wanamaker, Miranda Richardson and Phyllis Logan lead all-star cast in Kay Mellor’s brand new ITV Drama ‘Girlfriends’

Brand new ITV drama Girlfriends – from the pen of BAFTA award-winning screenwriter Kay Mellor and starring Zoë Wanamaker (Mr Selfridge, Agatha Christie’s Poirot, My Family, Gormenghast, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone), Miranda Richardson (Mapp & Lucia, And Then There Were None, Churchill, iBoy) and Phyllis Logan (The Good Karma Hospital, Downton Abbey) – starts filming next month produced by Rollem Productions.
Girlfriends is a contemporary story of Linda, Sue and Gail as they struggle with the responsibilities that come with being a modern woman of a certain age.

After the dramatic and sudden death of Linda’s husband Micky, childhood friends Linda (Phyllis Logan), Sue (Miranda Richardson) and Gail (Zoë Wanamaker) find themselves back together again. Each has their own problems to face; from a looming divorce from the husband she still loves and the loss of a high-powered job through age discrimination, to juggling the endless responsibilities of their grandchildren and aging mothers.

As widowed Linda tries to come to terms with being on her own after over 30 years of marriage, she and her girlfriends are horrified to find that this could be the least of her worries. As questions over the circumstances of Micky’s death start to be asked, accusations reveal secrets, deception and doubts that tear at our Girlfriends’ friendship. Will it endure or will it be severely put to the test?

Girlfriends is a contemporary story about friends, family, responsibilities and the inevitable changes that age brings… But true friendship remains the same no matter how many years have passed.

Phyllis Logan says: “I’m thrilled to be part of Girlfriends, written by the wonderful Kay Mellor and to be working not only with her but the stellar cast that has been assembled. It’s a hugely exciting project and I feel enormously fortunate to be involved in it. I can’t wait to get started.”

Miranda Richardson comments: “A whole summer spent working on a women-driven script, written and directed by a woman who has proved herself many times over as a force of nature in TV drama alongside some of our most gifted female actors – what’s not to like?”

Zoë Wanamaker adds: “I’m looking forward to working on this exciting new series with such a stellar cast.  I have long been a fan of Kay’s work and am relishing the opportunity to work alongside Miranda and Phyllis.”

Kay Mellor says: “Girlfriends is my passion project, it’s a story that I’ve been longing to tell.  It’s wonderful to be returning to ITV and working with Polly Hill again – she’s an inspiration to me.

I’m so looking forward to working with such a talented cast.  It’s fantastic that we’ve got such high-calibre actors to play the three very different leading characters.

I’m aware that there are a lot of women of a certain age who feel like they are invisible and unheard, so I’m proud to have the chance to shine a light on their lives and give them a voice.  The series is not just a platform for their voices though – there is a big, bold, dark story at its heart, which is shot through with humour.  I’m hoping both men and women will love it as much as I’ve loved writing it.”

Polly Hill, Head of Drama for ITV adds: “This is a fabulous cast and testament to Kay’s wonderful scripts.  Kay celebrates women of a certain age and female friendship through this wonderful and compelling story. I am proud to have this on ITV and delighted to see Kay return to the channel in such a brilliant way.  I can’t wait to see Zoë, Miranda and Phyllis bring her characters to life, and look forward to sharing Girlfriends with our audience next year.”

Girlfriends is a 6 x 60 drama series and has been commissioned by Polly Hill, Head of Drama for ITV. The series will be directed by Kay Mellor (The Syndicate, In The Club) and produced by Josh Dynevor (Fat Friends Series 3, The New Worst Witch).  The executive producers are Kay Mellor for Rollem Productions and Polly Hill for ITV.  It is a Rollem production for ITV and the series will be distributed by All3media International.

David Swetman, VP Acquisitions at All3media says: “It is a real pleasure to be working with Kay Mellor and her talented team at Rollem – we’ve admired Kay’s work for many years and it has been a pleasure working with her on upcoming production, Love, Lies & Records.  We are delighted to announce that we have secured Acorn Media Enterprises again as the North American partner for this Rollem show (Acorn Media Enterprises is the UK-based development division for the Acorn brand of RLJ Entertainment, Inc.).”