Everybody really is talking about Jamie and it’s not at all hard to see why! Everybody’s Talking About Jamie is an uplifting and heart-warming piece that’s familiar enough to easily resonate with an audience, yet challenging enough to ensure it captivates them in entirety. This is one of those shows that demonstrates the best that musical theatre can be; emotionally driven storytelling, enhanced with a truly magnificent score.
Armed with the glitz and excitement of smash hit Kinky Boots and underpinned by an intimate character journey equivocal to the emotional gravitas of Pricilla Queen of the Desert, Everybody’s Talking About Jamie ticks all the boxes set by its predecessors and is sure to surpass expectations – particularly for those aware that it transitioned from script to stage in only 3 years!
Everybody’s Talking About Jamie is based on the real-life story of Jamie Campbell, a 15-year-old country boy who was determined to tell his story. Harbouring a secret dream of becoming a professional drag queen and deciding that the first step was to attend his school prom in a dress, Jamie Campbell sold his story as a documentary and from here the creative team had their foundation for one of the freshest and most exciting shows on the West End.
Considered by some to be the drag Billy Elliot, the show exudes youth and energy. The company are exceptional, and their exuberance and boundless enthusiasm is seriously infectious. Transcending the escapism of the light-hearted ‘box step’ musical comedy, this production is enthralling to the max. If I’m perfectly honest, I forgot I was reviewing the piece until, out of the corner of my eye, I noticed a fellow reviewer drop a pen while taking notes!
At the heart of the story is the relationship between a mother and son. Detailing the heartache arising from a deadbeat father who has all but disowned his child, the production delivers raw emotion and examines the unique and unparalleled relationship of a single parent with an only child.
John McCrea in the role of Jamie is exceptional, to say the least, and is a serious front-runner for the best sassy walk (and legs!) on the West End! The depth of emotion he brings to the role elevates the production beyond all risk of clichés, ensuring that audiences receive the full impact of his poignant portrayal. Josie Walker unleashes a fiercely maternal presence, recognisable to any mother. Her stunning delivery of ‘He’s my boy’ in the second act is set to move even the most stoic of theatregoers. Mina Anwar and Lucie Shorthouse complete Jamie’s inner circle and deliver exceptional performances, reminding audiences that ‘normal’ really is in the eye of the beholder.
Dan Gillespie’s score is a delight and is reminiscent of an eclectic mix of exceptional shows, ranging from the modern and inspiring beats of RENT to the emotionally charged themes of Chess. Be warned, earworms are aplenty and you’re sure to be humming the core refrains for hours later.
As Phil Nichol’s Hugo states; “A boy in a dress is something to be laughed at, but a drag queen is something to be feared.” In this instance, I would extend this to say that this queen is to be feared and revered – for his courage, determination and ferocity of spirit.
Every now and then a show comes along that changes the pace of the genre; something tells me this is going to be one of them.
Review by Cassandra Griffin
Jamie New is sixteen and lives on a council estate in Sheffield.
Jamie doesn’t quite fit in.
Jamie is terrified about the future.
Jamie is going to be a sensation.
Supported by his brilliant loving mum and surrounded by his friends, Jamie overcomes prejudice, beats the bullies and steps out of the darkness, into the spotlight.
John McCrea, Josie Walker, Tamsin Carroll and Mina Anwar lead a twenty-four strong company and an eight-piece band that “sends you out on a feel-good bubble of happiness” (Daily Telegraph).
Hailed as “Billy Elliot for today’s generation” (What’s On Stage), this fabulous, funny, feel-good brand new musical sensation hits London with catchy new songs by lead singer-songwriter of The Feeling Dan Gillespie Sells and writer Tom MacRae.
Sixteen: the edge of possibility. Time to make your dreams come true.
31 Shaftesbury Avenue, London, W1D 7ES