Sam Bailey talks about starring in FAT FRIENDS – THE MUSICAL
How did you first encounter Fat Friends the Musical? Did you watch Fat Friends when it was on TV?
I did briefly watch the television show! Obviously, I knew of Fat Friends and have always been a big fan Ruth Jones and James Corden. Fat Friends started the career of both of those actors and look how far they have come now! When my agent contacted me, and said they were putting this stage show together I knew it would be incredible and something I would love to be a part of. Thankfully, I had an audition and it went really well!
Could you tell us about Betty and what attracted you to the role?
Betty is the mum of Kelly, who is played by Jodie Prenger. Betty is the protector and quite a strong woman. As a mum, she can be quite assertive but also has her insecurities, just like everybody else does. Betty has lost five stone in weight and has done so well so she is one that everybody in the slimming club wants to be like in the sense that that’s what all of the slimming club members are there for. As a mum she tells off her girls when they fight, argue, when they do something wrong but she is there for them whenever she needs to be. She is the boss really, her husband Fergus is wrapped around her little finger! Betty is a great character to play – I do think there are a lot of similarities between myself and Betty in the some of the things she does and the way she is to me as a person.
How is the tour going?
The tour is going really, really well! I have been dancing all the time, I didn’t know I had it in me! Every day is a school day when I am here and I am getting the opportunity to work with such amazing people. Karen Bruce, who choreographed the show is incredible. With this show, we aren’t meant to be all amazing dancers. Betty is not Flavia from Strictly she is Betty she’s not meant to be the best dancer in the world so a little bit of me is coming out in it the routines – which works in my favour! When people watch the show, they will see that a few of the routines are similar to those in a Zumba class and anyone who has been to a Zumba class will know that there are different levels of ability and that is exactly what we are portraying in some of the dances, moves and pieces that we have got in the show. There is so much that people will relate to in this show. It’s so funny and the show is so much fun. When you watch the show, people will see difficult qualities that they recognise and relate to themselves. So many people out there have been on diets and to slimming clubs, salsa classes and fitness classes and they will have so much in common with one or more of the characters on stage. So, everybody is going to take home a little piece of it that is really close to home.
How has it been working with Kay Mellor and Nicholas Lloyd Webber?
I was absolutely in awe when I first met Kay because obviously she has done so much! She has been great to work with, she is so patient and she knows what she wants out of you and she is very clever at getting that. This is one of the biggest roles I have done in regards to dialogue so when we get to a bit that I don’t think I know the lines for, Kay will make me put the script down and then see if I can do it and I always can. She has a lot in faith and believe in us as a cast and I love that. Nick Lloyd Webber is a genius, he is just an incredible musical genius. The music for this show is just phenomenal and everyone is going to love it, I just know it.
What can audiences expect from Fat Friends the Musical? If anyone is not familiar with the show, how would you describe it in three words?
Endeering – there are some really nice story lines in the show. True – the characters are true and it’s a true adaptation of life. So many aspects of this show happen every single day so audiences will have an understanding of that. Funny – there are some really emotional moments in the show as well though. I have cried on stage during the show in moments where I needed to but that was without even really acting it, I’ve just felt it and I know that the audience is going to be sobbing, especially if you are a mum! But there are some really funny bits, really funny stuff, some of the characters are hilarious. My daughter Joanne who is played by Rachel Wooding is brilliant and her character is so funny. I can imagine there is going to be a lot of people laughing. Freddie Flintoff has been doing incredibly well, he is blowing everyone away. He has a lovely character in the show and he portray it very well. Every day is a school day for me and I am coming in in awe of everyone else. I can’t wait to get on the road and get doing it!
Is there a city on the tour you’re most looking forward to visiting and why?
I am looking forward to going to Bromley, I have never performed at the Churchill Theatre.
My nan is from Bromley, I was brought up over that way so it will be nice to go back to Bromley and visit people while we’re there. Unfortunately, I am not doing the Scotland dates; Elaine C Smith will be doing those but I am looking forward to going doing the travelling and going everywhere really! Leeds will definitely be the most nerve racking, I suppose. For more ways than one; The show is set in Leeds so there are going to be a lot of people that go who are going to have a connection with it and to the accent so I’ve got to get it right. Which I have a feeling I have so hopefully I will be alright!
What’s your favourite moment or song in the show and why?
There is a song in the show called Beautiful. The instrumental of that song is the underscore throughout the show and it is absolutely stunning. The vocals on that are brilliant, it’s sang by Jodie Prenger who does it so well. The last song of the show is called Love Who You Are and that’s the whole message of the show; love who you are, accept who you are and just be confident in who you are in. It’s a great ending and a fun song as well!
You have appeared in great musical theatre productions including Chicago. Has musical theatre always been a genre you enjoy? Are there any other musical roles you would love to play?
There are a few that I would like to tick off my bucket list, I would love to do Nancy from
Oliver, Rosie in Mama Mia!, Lady of the Lake in Spamalot or Madame Thenardier in Les
Mis, but you know one show at a time! I am going to need a break after Fat Friends – The
Musical! I’m a Sunday mum really, I do this work then I spend 6 months at home with my
kids being a Sunday mum again. I would like to do a lot of musicals in my future.
What inspired you to go into musical theatre?
I had always wanted to go into musical theatre but I had never had the platform to do it.
Thankfully, being on the show like the X Factor has given me that opportunity. I would love to go to drama school for 6 months, to a year and do it on my own merit. I’m aware a lot of people have paid money and spent loads of time to get to training to get into musical theatre, which is something I would love to do. I want to be recognised for being trained in musical theatre. It’s something I am looking in to, to get some training so I can say I have had that training and have worked for where I am, rather than falling on the X Factor.
What’s your all-time favorite musical?
Les Misérables – I have seen it about 20 times, it’s my favourite show! Recently, I have been to see School of Rock and I have to say that that is an incredible show. I love watching shows like that. I am desperate to see Dreamgirls and I really want to see Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. Les Misérables has to be my all-time favourite show though without a shadow of a doubt. My husband and oldest daughter love it too, they love musical theatre. My youngest son and my youngest daughter have to endure all of us singing the Les Misérables soundtrack in the car. It’s delightful!
What is your favourite flavour of doughnut? Doughnut or diet?
I would have to say a Greggs ice ring doughnut! The white icing with brown lines on it, it’s my favourite. I can never just have one!
Photo: Sam Bailey at the 2017 West End Wilma Awards (by Ollie Boito Photography)