Joel Montague chats about FAT FRIENDS THE MUSICAL

You’ve been in so many great shows over the past few years. From Billy Elliot, Sister Act and Urinetown to more recently Funny Girl and School of Rock. What have been some of your career highlights so far?
I have been so lucky that there has been so many. Urinetown was always my favourite probably and that was due to the most incredible team of people I had chance to work with. Headed by the amazing Jamie Lloyd getting to work with the likes of Jenna Russell, Jon Slinger & Simon Paisley Day not to mention the rest of the amazing company, was a pleasure every single day. All of the cast still keep in touch today, they are just an amazing group of people. Also, Billy Elliott as it was my first job. Some of my closest friends I ever made were on Sister Act UK Tour. I still live with 2 of them now. Getting the chance to play Dewey Finn will always be a huge highlight of my career. It wouldn’t be fair though if I wasn’t to mention Funny Girl. The most wonderful producers & creative team for giving me a gift of a role. Michael Mayer & Lynne Page for being so supportive of me. One of the most incredible fun loving and talented casts. Also, the chance to work with the incredible Marilyn Cutts & Sheridan Smith was a dream for me.

This year you were nominated for Best Understudy at the West End Wilma Awards for your role as Dewey Finn in School of Rock. What was that show like to work on and is there a particular genre of theatre you prefer to work in?
The show was great, the gimmick of the kids works for the show. Andrew wrote some amazing rock music to play & sing. The kids in the show are just unbelievable and as I said before Dewey Finn was a huge highlight as I’m just a big kid. When you play Dewey it’s like you’re a kid in a playground. So, when I had the chance to go on I just tried to make it as much fun as possible for the kids on stage as it would bring it the best in them. It’s definitely a role I’m not finished with.

You are now starring in the UK Tour of Fat Friends the Musical, alongside Freddie Flintoff, Sam Bailey and Jodie Prenger. What is the show about and how does it compare to the TV show?
Well it’s a musical so that’s a major difference from the TV show. Its written & directed by the amazing Kay Mellor. Choreography by Karen Bruce. Music by Nick Lloyd Webber. It’s the story of Kelly Stevenson who attempts to lose weight to get into the wedding dress of her dreams which I’m sure a lot of people especially women can relate to. We all want to look good in wedding photos, don’t we? The plot comprises of the highs and lows of going to the local slimming club where we meet various characters along the way including Kevin Murgatroyd played by myself & Freddie Flintoff. The show tells us to love who we are, no matter what size, which I think is something that should be taken forward especially in our industry. Casting is really breaking boundaries now and I hope it carries on that way. Working with all the guys has been such a laugh so we really enjoy our time together.

The music for the show has been composed by Nick Lloyd Webber (son of Andrew Lloyd Webber). What can we expect to hear from the music in this show?
Nick has a great ear for pop which is very noticeable in Fat Friends. I still hold the fact that to this day I think I’m one of the only people that’s been rehearsing one show for Nick Lloyd Webber while performing in an Andrew Lloyd Webber show so I think I can take that to my grave. I guess you could say he is very much like his father, Nick can write a great melody and really connects with the emotion of the text through his music.

You are travelling all around the UK with this show on tour. What are some of your favourite cities that you are looking forward to visiting?
There are lots but probably Newcastle as it’s an amazing party city and you always get great audiences. Cardiff Millennium Centre, Edinburgh Playhouse & Glasgow of course.

People always ask about dream roles people would like to play in the future but how about if you were the opposite sex? What would you love to have a go at playing?
All the big ones Elphaba, Effie White, funnily enough probably Jenna in waitress as it’s an incredible role and great score. Finally, Fanny Brice obviously.

There is a lot in the media these days about celebrity casting in the world of theatre. Why do you think celebrity casting is a good thing for theatre?
I think for something like Fat Friends it’s great as it’s a new musical. Getting new blood into the theatre to watch new work is always important. Unless it’s Hamilton then it doesn’t matter who’s in it. It’s just a great piece of work.

Why should people come and see Fat Friends the Musical on tour in 2018?
Well mainly because it’s a new British musical. It’s written & directed by Bafta award winning Kay Mellor so is there any more reason. It’s funny, it’s chunky & I won’t believe anyone that tells that they don’t laugh at it. It’s about a bunch of fatties what’s not to love.

Thanks for having Tea with Wilma


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