Review - Everybody's Talking About Jamie - National Tour

Everybody's Talking About Jamie - National Tour

Everybody’s Talking About Jamie is a homegrown British Musical originated in Sheffield at the Crucible and based on the BBC Three documentary 'Jamie Drag Queen at 16'. It tells the story of 16-year-old Jamie New growing up on a Sheffield council estate who is very secure in who he is and dreams of being a Drag Queen. It is a brilliant and powerful piece of Musical Theatre that really speaks to the LGBTQ+ experience in Britain today in the most wonderful way, with a central character who is gutsy and fabulous, but also real, as he develops his own sense of self and encounters a lack of acceptance from some of those around him, particularly his father.

Jamie’s story is effectively brought to life firstly by the sharp and witty yet poignant script written by Tom Macrae and original director Jonathan Butterell. There are some really emotional moments which make you feel so much empathy, but these are adeptly balanced by some absolutely hysterical comedy moments, and there are some real zingers delivered with great comic timing by the cast. The story’s narrative is massively enhanced by the songs written by Dan Gillespie Sells with lyrics by the aforementioned Macrae. They are catchy and upbeat when they need to be and also full of pathos and feeling at other times, and they all blend beautifully into the story, drive the narrative and perfectly express how the characters are feeling. The choreography by Kate Prince is also clever and celebratory using a variety of contemporary styles that maintain the energy throughout the show.

The show is also driven by a wonderful cast, every single person on the stage gives their all in telling this really important and inclusive story. Ivano Turco as Jamie has a great energy and the right amount of sass, and his dancing is superb especially in the red high heels! How on earth does he do that?! Shobna Gulati is brilliantly acerbic and wise cracking as Ray, Jamie’s surrogate auntie and his Mum’s best friend, she makes the most of her hilariously sarcastic one liners! Hayley Tamaddon also captures exactly the right character as Jamie’s teacher Miss Hedge, who is unaccepting and rigorous about the rules. The three Drag queens at Legs Eleven were wonderfully played by Ky Kelly, David McNair and Akshay St Clair (who also played Jamie’s Dad) adding real spice and risqué humour to their scenes, and Jamie’s best friend Pritti Pasha was played with great sensitivity yet strength by Talia Palamathanan.

There were two standout performances for me, one came from John Partridge as Hugo/Loco Chanelle – he was commanding and statuesque especially as his alter ego Loco Chanelle, full of glamour and sophistication and dominating the stage with his powerful vocals. The other was Georgina Hagen as Jamie’s Mum Margaret.  She has the most wonderful voice, powerful and strong one minute then full of angst and emotional depth the next, she was able to convey every emotion, you could see it and feel it. Her relationship on stage with Ivano Turco as Jamie was beautiful and so believable. Her performance was even more remarkable when you consider she is the Understudy for Margaret and the Resident Director of the whole production. She is the heart of the piece and clearly shows that it’s his mother’s unconditional love that gives Jamie his strength and bravery to tackle prejudiced attitudes and bullying head on.

This show is modern British Musical Theatre at it’s best, it’s uplifting, heart-warming, thought provoking and just out and out fabulous fun! It reminds us to be our own individual selves and that there is a place where we all belong! Just go and see what the talk is all about and long may Jamie continue to be the topic of everybody’s conversation!

The production is running at the Wales Millennium Centre until Saturday the 28th of October. Tickets are available here

Full tour details can be found here:

***** stars

Beverley Anne Harris

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Photo credit: Matt Crockett