FatBusters is a very British homegrown musical about a year in the life of a weight-loss group and their struggles with their lives, their relationships and, of course, their weight.
The story’s fairly straightforward. Helen (Tiffany Parker) joins the established FatBusters group to lose the weight she thinks she needs to achieve her dreams. She is given a warm Birmingham welcome and is immediately drawn into the camaraderie of the group and their shared dread of the weigh-in. They’re a really likeable bunch of characters played with joy and gusto by the cast. We meet the tough but kind Sue & Saskia (Kate Playdon & Shani Cantor) to AmDram fanatic Patricia (Christina Meehan), Barry and Nigel (Mark Bools & Ian Parkin) are caring and insecure and there’s a romantic proposition for Helen in Greg (Paul Bradshaw). For all of the group life isn’t working out quite how they’d hoped – except for perhaps Lyn (Frankie Jones) who’s more than achieved her weight loss – but still attends the group for the solidarity and friendship. The group leader Fiona (Yvette Robinson) is a brilliantly realised villain who is everything you don’t hope for in an inspirational leader and Tom (Danny Knott) plays his role as Helen’s feckless and thoughtless boyfriend uncomfortably well. As expected, there are obstacles and twists, along with lots of great humour, along the way.
The songs come thick and fast and some are more effective than others, and occasionally the acoustics of St Giles is not quite up to the job, but the real joy of this musical is the warmth of the characters, the language and the creativity in the production. There are lots of laughs and Director Rebecca Westberry and Choreographer Cameron Hall make sure that the space is cleverly used and that the audience feel completely drawn into the world of these characters. They carefully keep the line between musical comedy and pantomime.
This is Joshua Coley’s first full musical and it’s ambitious, honest and tenderly crafted. You get a real sense of his affection for the characters and their world. This isn’t a musical about laughing at fat people, this is a show that encourages us to empathise and share their world.
The inclusion of a live band is also a lovely touch and helps to keep the feel intimate. All the cast are super strong and they work brilliantly together. It was a delight to witness the ensemble pieces and you really feel their joy and pain. A big shout out to Joanna Gregory and Samuel Bailey (Ensemble) who take on various roles and bring a grace and added dimension that was unexpected. There’s a stunning dance scene between them that fits perfectly as a contrast to the clumsiness of the characters’ lives.
Bringing a new musical with a large cast and a live band to stage is never an easy ask and FatBusters is obviously a labour of love. I hope it gets big audiences. It’s an absolute joy to watch.
Review by Roz Wyllie
Dont miss your chance to have a taste of this larger than life show which will leave you happier then when you see an offer for Ben and Jerrys Ice Cream. It promises an abundance of belly laughs so what are you waiting for? ‘Come on in’ and witness this new British musical.
Have you ever looked at a cheese cake and put on half a stone? Do you ever wonder why diets can only ever start on Mondays? Have you ever been described as: bubbly, bonny, voluptuous or well? Helen has! One New Years Eve she decides enough is enough and proves that her heart is ¬one size fits all!`Join Helen and her `Fatbuster` pals on their quest to believing in themselves and achieving their dreams 0ne thing is for sure: You shall walk away with a warm heart, sore cheeks and a few new tunes to hum as you walk to your fridge. A real guilty treat!
The team that brought you the UK revival of Personals is staying true to its ethos and is bringing you something new and exciting! Ain`t No Other productions has teamed with writer Joshua Coley to bring FatBusters to life. This new British comedy springs to the stage at St. Giles in the Fields Church in Tottenham Court Road from the 29th of May. After all, what says weight loss group more than a church hall! We believe that this is a show for everyone. Everyone can relate to this story. Whether it is you that has been to Weight Watchers, or you’ve sat in the hairdressers listening to Linda discussing the sin level of the Indian take away she had last night.
The Cast (in order of appearance)
Fiona – Yvette Robinson
Patricia – Christina Meehan
Sue – Kate Playdon
Nigel – Ian Parkin
Lyn – Frankie Jones
Barry – Mark Bools
Greg – Paul Bradshaw
Saskia – Shani Cantor
Helen – Tiffany Parker
Tom – Danny Knott
Ensemble – Joanna Gregory, Samuel Bailey
Rebecca Westberry – Director
Cameron Hall -Choreographer
Writer/co Director-Joshua Coley
Musical Director/Orchestration Sonum Batra
Set Designer – Justin Williams
Lighting Designer-Hector Murray
Casting – Harry Blumenau at Debbie O’ Brien
Producer – Ain’t No Other Production
Venue – St. Giles in the Field
Address – 60 St Giles High St, London WC2H 8LG
Dates – 29th of May to 10th of June