Former Emmerdale star Natalie Anderson is the latest addition to the cast for the UK tour of Fat Friends The Musical.
The actress, whose stage roles since leaving the ITV soap have included Nessarose in the West End production of Wicked, will play Lauren the role originated on screen by her Emmerdale co-star Gaynor Faye.
She will join the previously announced Jodie Prenger, Sam Bailey, Elaine C Smith and ex-England cricketer turned TV personality Andrew ‘Freddie’ Flintoff who will make his stage debut during the tour. Further casting is to be announced.
Written and directed by the creator of the original ITV drama series, Kay Mellor and with original music by Nicholas Lloyd Webber, the musical re-shaping of the popular drama will play its opening run at the Leeds Grand Theatre from 7 November until 2 December before heading out on the road in January 2018.
Following the announcement of her casting in the show 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.”
Commenting on the latest addition to her cast, 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, 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 Slimmers by the lovelorn Lauren, while 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 play the Leeds Grand until 2 December. The production 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 favourite Faye, the show was credited with launching the careers of James Corden and Ruth Jones.