Review: Former cricket legend Andrew Flintoff a big smash hit in Fat Friends in Sheffield

Jodie Prenger and Andrew Flintoff in Fat Friends.
Jodie Prenger and Andrew Flintoff in Fat Friends.

Thirteen years ago, cricketer Andrew "Freddie" Flintoff cemented himself as a national sporting treasure as he helped guide England to the Ashes.

Being named Man of the Series for that 2005 campaign, it seems bizarre that just over a decade on, Flintoff is now standing on stage in Sheffield, dancing, acting and singing - and not just as a token appearance in panto either.

For Flintoff plays the lead male role in Kay Mellor's Fat Friends: The Musical which opened at Sheffield's Lyceum on Monday and is in town until the weekend.

And he makes a pretty good fist of it too. There have been plenty of others who have switched careers from sport to the stage some with aplomb (Vinnie Jones, Eric Cantona) and some not so (Ian Wright, Gazza et al).

And rather than being just a few brief scenes, Flintoff is a mainstay of the action opposite the wonderful I'd Do Anything Jodie Prenger as the pair overcome a series of hurdles on the way to their wedding day.

The crisp, colourful and funny musical, following on from the successful TV series, focuses on a Leeds slimming club - and the trials and tribulations of Prenger's character Kelly as she bids to slim down so she can fit into her wedding dress.

Neil Hurst and Kevin Kennedy provide plenty of laughs.

Neil Hurst and Kevin Kennedy provide plenty of laughs.

2013 X-Factor winner Sam Bailey, Coronation Street Kevin "Curly Watts" Kennedy and Atomic Kitten singer Natasha Hamilton are also in the cast, making it a bit of an all-star line-up.

But stealing many of the show's best lines and comic scenes is South Yorkshire singer and actress Rachael Wooding whose double role as Kelly's sister Joanne and long-suffering assistant Pippa to diet club supremo Julia Fleshman won plenty of riotous laughs.

Prenger injects life and vitality into her role and is equipped with a decent pair of lungs as she blasts her way through tender numbers such as Beautiful and the hilariously funny Chocolate, which draws in some of the heartiest chuckles of the evening.

The show zips along with some tender Yorkshire humour - and anyone who's ever been to a slimming club will give a few nods of knowing recognition as the plot unfurls.

Natalie Anderson, Rachael Wooding, Jodie Prenger and Sam Bailey in Fat Friends.

Natalie Anderson, Rachael Wooding, Jodie Prenger and Sam Bailey in Fat Friends.

Fat Friends serves up a hefty dose of good old-fashioned entertainment that's just perfect to warm up a cold winter's night.

Help yourself to a big portion - and prepare to be bowled over by a show that provides a bellyful of goodness.

* Kay Mellor's Fat Friends: The Musical is at Sheffield Lyceum Theatre until February 17.

The show runs at the Lyceum until February 17.

The show runs at the Lyceum until February 17.