INTERVIEW: Fat Friends The Musical’s Neil Hurst

In Features, Interviews, Musicals, Quotes, Regional theatre, Touring by Helen McWilliamsLeave a Comment

Actor Neil Hurst is currently starring in Kay Mellor’s Fat Friends The Musical which is on UK tour. Neil gave us the low-down on the musical that’s setting regional theatres alight.

Thanks for talking to Entertainment Views, how familiar were you with Kay Mellor’s Fat Friends prior to being cast in the musical?
I watched the television show when it was on in the early 2000s. I have always been a big fan of Kay’s work. I grew up watching a programme called Children’s Ward on ITV which Kay was a writer for. So, I’ve always been aware of her work, but when I got old enough to watch the television I really wanted I was watching Fat Friends, Band of Gold and The Syndicate. I was lucky enough to have a part in Kay’s television series The Syndicate. I’ve always been a big fan of Kay Mellor and of Fat Friends.

Tell me about the role you’re playing.
I am playing the part of Alan. Alan is a reluctant slimmer at Super Slimmers which is the slimming club in the Fat Friends the Musical. Alan goes to the club because he has been told he is officially obese and has got to lose three stone, otherwise he will lose his job. His wife is making him go as well because she is on a fitness kick of her own.

What are the strengths of the character?
Alan is very loveable. He is one of the really funny characters in the show. Fat Friends the Musical is a really funny show but Alan is one of the characters that really does dish out quite a lot of the comedy in it. As well as being loveable, he’s a little daft and always there just at the moment when you need a bit of a comic relief.

What can the audience expect from the show?
Audiences can expect a great night out, it’s a really, really funny show. We are yet to have an audience which aren’t up on their feet dancing and singing at the end. If any audience member has ever been to any slimming clubs or they’ve struggled with their weight, there are loads of little things throughout the show that they will recognise that they have done or said, like taking off as much clothes as you can before you get weighed or starving yourself before the slimming club then eating loads straight after.

Have you got a personal favourite moment or song from the show?

I do! I have a few favourite moments. Following the opening run of the Fat Friends the Musical in Leeds, we put in a new number in the show when we started the tour this year. The new number is called Chocolate. I don’t want to spoil it for anyone reading but audiences will get to see a bit more of Alan than perhaps they wanted to! That’s my favourite moment in the show and I didn’t think it would be. Kay, our director, said I was going to do it and originally, I didn’t want to but when it comes around to it in the show, the audiences have been going wild and I think I feel like a bit of a Chippendale for a minute! My favourite song in the show has probably got to be The Only Fool Is Me, which the character of Kevin sings and it’s like a rock ballad – it’s really good!

What led you into a performing career?

Performing is something I have always done. My mother and father were heavily involved in amateur dramatics and I used to tag along to rehearsals with them. Then one day there was the opportunity to take part in one of the shows so then I started to perform and act and I have been doing it ever since. I decided to do it as a career when I turned 18 and I have never done anything else, I am no good at anything else in fairness! I am lucky to do what I love to do for a living.

Any advice for budding performers?

You’ve just got to do it, follow your dreams – you don’t want to look back wishing you had done all these different things. That’s what working on this show has taught me. Freddie Flintoff is part of the cast and performing in some of the shows on the tour. He is someone you would never expect to be in a musical but when he gets the opportunity to do something, he grabs the bull by the horns and does it. It’s the right idea, you don’t know when you could get these opportunities again and you don’t want to look back in 20 years’ time wishing you had done it.

Finally, sell the show – why should we all come and see Fat Friends The Musical?

Fat Friends the Musical is a great, fun night out! The cast are fantastic! We’re all having a great time and we’re having as much fun on stage as you will have in the audience. So, make sure you come see the show!

I’d like to thank Neil for his time, I can attest that Fat Friends The Musical is a superb musical and you should catch it if you can! 

Helen McWilliams
Helen McWilliams is a Midlands-based reviewer, but is happy travelling anywhere and everywhere to pursue her love of the theatre. Since 2013, she has been combining her passions for writing and theatre in her Break A Leg Review site. She also enjoys interviewing actors, writers and other professionals from the business. Helen tweets at @breakalegreview.
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Helen McWilliams
Helen McWilliams is a Midlands-based reviewer, but is happy travelling anywhere and everywhere to pursue her love of the theatre. Since 2013, she has been combining her passions for writing and theatre in her Break A Leg Review site. She also enjoys interviewing actors, writers and other professionals from the business. Helen tweets at @breakalegreview.