Former international cricketer Andrew ‘Freddie’ Flintoff is among an all-star cast of the new production, Fat Friends — The Musical, which comes to Nottingham’s Theatre Royal from Monday.
The production marks Andrew’s stage debut and he will appear for the first five performances at Nottingham, playing Kevin Chadwick.
Joining him on stage will be West End star Jodie Prenger, X Factor winner Sam Bailey, ex-Atomic Kitten Natasha Hamilton, and former Coronation Street star Kevin Kennedy.
The award-winning television drama of the same name has been adapted for the stage by its creator and one of the UK’s most prolific writers, Kay Mellor, whose other credits include Band Of Gold and The Syndicate.
It follows the lives of a group of overweight friends as they struggle with the absurdities of modern dieting.
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, whilst Kelly fantasises about fitting into the wedding dress of her dreams.
Kevin Kennedy plays the hard-working father Fergus.
He said: “Kay Mellor has written a production that has got everything.
“There are two or three really strong stories throughout the actual piece. The music, written by Nick Lloyd Webber, is very catchy. It is the kind of music that you will be humming after hearing it for the first time. There is great choreography and the show is very funny.
“I think audiences will have a great time.
“It is a feel-good show that deals with some important stuff at the same time as being light-hearted and fun.”
'You cannot beat live theatre'
Despite being best known for playing Curly Watts in Coronation Street, Kevin has since carved out a successful career in musical theatre in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, Chicago and We Will Rock You.
He said: “Musicals are something I never thought I would get the chance to be involved with. It wasn’t until I left Coronation street 13 years ago that I suddenly found myself in the in the world of musicals and to me it was a real adventure with its own language and its own moves.
“It is a totally different genre to the rest of theatre. I find that a challenge all the time.
“You cannot beat live theatre, it always has the edge because it is live. It means once you are on stage you are on your own and you have to completely depend on yourself, so any trouble or mistakes that happen you have to get yourself out of them.”
Andrew Flintoff turned to broadcasting, including being a team captain on Sky’s A League Of Their Own, after a highly-successful cricket career that included winning The Ashes in 2005.
After Andrew’s five performances, the role of Kevin will be played by WhatsOnStage Award nominee Joel Montague.
Other cast members include Rachael Wooding (We Will Rock You) Jonathan Halliwell (Let It Shine) and Chloe Hart (Hairspray) as Val.
Fat Friends — The Musical runs until Saturday, March 30.