Former England cricketer turned TV personality Andrew ‘Freddie’ Flintoff will make his stage debut in Fat Friends The Musical for seven dates during the UK tour.
Flintoff will play the role of Kevin Chadwick opposite the show’s leading lady Jodie Prenger as his fiancée Kelly, joining the opening run of the musical re-shaping of popular ITV drama Fat Friends at Leeds Grand Theatre on 7 November. He will then appear on stage in Southampton, Sheffield, Manchester, Birmingham, Bradford and Blackpool.
Written and directed by the creator of the TV series Kay Mellor and with original music by Nicholas Lloyd Webber, Fat Friends The Musical will play Mellor’s home ground of Leeds until 2 December before heading out on the road in January 2018.
The popular sporting star’s won the chance to make his musical theatre debut after filming an episode of creator Mellor’s new ITV series and then impressing Mellor and Lloyd Webber during auditions.
Revealing his delight at the new twist in his glittering career, 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.”
Commenting on the decision to cast one of England’s best loved sportsmen, 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 fiancée to Kelly played by Jodie Prenger. I can’t wait to start working with the super talented cast we’ve got so far!”
Lloyd Webber added: “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.”
Produced by Joshua Andrews and Adam Spiegel, Fat Friends The Musical will be designed by Bretta Gerecke, with orchestrations, arrangement and musical supervision by Simon Lee, sound design by Gareth Owen and lighting design by Nick Richings.
Launching in January 2018, the tour will visit Bromley, Newcastle, Hull, Southampton, Sheffield, Southend, Milton Keynes, Norwich, Manchester, Nottingham, Birmingham, Dartford, Edinburgh, Cardiff, Glasgow, Bradford, Aberdeen and Blackpool.
The story of the lives and loves of a group of dieters, Fat Friends first arrived on television nearly 17 years ago. With a cast that included Alison Steadman, Sheridan Smith and Mellor’s own daughter, Emmerdale and Coronation Street actress Gaynor Faye, the show was credited with launching the careers of James Corden and Ruth Jones.