Number one recording artist Sam Bailey, who rose to fame winning the tenth series of The X Factor, will join the previously announced Jodie Prenger in the original British musical Fat Friends – The Musical. Sam will share the much-loved role of Betty, originated on screen by Alison Steadman, with award-winning comedian and actress Elaine C Smith (Two Doors Down, Rab C Nesbitt). Elaine will step into the role during three Scottish dates in Edinburgh, Glasgow and Aberdeen.
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 with further casting to be announced.
Produced by Joshua Andrews and Adam Spiegel, with original music 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.
Sam Bailey shot into the hearts of the nation in 2013, when the former Prison Officer won ITV’s The X Factor and reached Christmas number one with her first single, ‘Skyscraper’. She has gone on to receive public acclaim for her role as Mama Morton in the recent UK tour of Chicago.
Sam Bailey said “I’m absolutely delighted to have been cast as Betty in Fat Friends – The Musical. I loved the show when it was on ITV and I feel so honoured to be working with such a talented group of people. I know I am going to learn so much from Kay and Nicholas and I can’t wait to start rehearsals.”
Elaine C Smith said “I’ve always loved Kay Mellor’s writing and work and have been a fan for years – so the chance to work on this musical version based on a TV series that I loved was just too good to miss. Kay’s writing and portrayal of women along with her great ability to tell a cracking story that moves and touches people as well as making them laugh is so good and evident in great series like The Syndicate, In the Club and the iconic Band of Gold – so her work is what all actors want to be involved in – and with great music too – what’s not to like! I know audiences will love this and I am really looking forward to being involved in such a great production.”
Kay Mellor said “I was absolutely delighted when we announced Jodie Prenger would lead the cast for Fat Friends – The Musical, she’s the perfect fit to bring Kelly to life on stage and I can’t wait to see her in action. It fills me with pride to know that the musical will be seen by audiences across the nation with such a talented cast.”
“I watched every episode of The X Factor when Sam was in it, because to me she was an ordinary woman. A mother and a wife who had the voice of an angel and a wonderfully warm personality. It was one of those rare times that I actually picked up the phone and voted. I auditioned Sam for about one minute for Fat Friends the Musical – as soon as she said my words and I looked in her eyes, I knew that she understood the character of Betty. She is an instinctive actress that will bring great depth and warmth to the character.”
“I first saw Elaine in Rab C Nesbit and thought she was absolutely hilarious and a genius. I saw her again when she was in the West End with my daughter Gaynor in Calendar Girls and, in fact, she came to my OBE celebration dinner! It was a complete pleasure to finally work with her in my TV series The Syndicate, and now it’s an absolute delight to work with her on stage as she plays our Superslimmer finalist and Mother of the Bride during the Scottish dates of our tour.”
With original music and songs composed by Nicholas Lloyd Webber, designed by Bretta Gerecke, 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 onto 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.