Everybody’s Talking About Jamie – Touring Cast Photos (Photo Credits: Matt Crockett)
Everybody’s Talking About Jamie is a new British musical written by Dan Gillespie Sells and Tom Macrae, from an original idea by Jonathan Butterell. It has been running in the West End’s Apollo Theatre since Oct 17. The show has been a smash hit since the start, gaining fans across the globe with its catchy pop tunes and heart felt story inspired by the real life of Jamie Campbell. The show-stopping musical has even been made into a film adaptation which launches worldwide on Amazon Prime Video from 17 September. The touring production starts at the Alexandra, Birmingham, on the 14th of September before it continues on to Bristol on its UK tour.
I have never seen Everybody’s Talking About Jamie on stage before, can you believe it?!, only catching the live recording of the show at my local Cinema. MT is a big fan of the show and went to see the show in London when it opened with John McCrea in the leading role of Jamie. From her raving review, I was excited to witness the magic for myself.
Everybody’s Talking About Jamie is based on the BBC documentary, Jamie: Drag Queen at 16, which followed Jamie Campbell as he dreams of being a drag queen in a community where being different brought alongside it many difficulties. In the musical, Jamie New is sixteen and lives on a council estate in Sheffield and doesn’t quite fit in. He learns, with the support of his family and friends, what it really means to be yourself, overcoming prejudice and bullies to become the star that he was born to be.
Touring Director Matt Ryan delivers an exceptional touring production of this show which was met by rapturous applause from the Birmingham audience. The popular and catchy score was played to perfection by the band led by Musical Director Sam Coates. The familiar school uniforms and iconic drag designs (Designer, Anna Fleischle) captured the imagination of the audience as we are swept into Jamie’s world. Some of the dialogue and props had even been adapted to fit in within our new pandemic world, showing how this show can adapt and be relevant to the current society that we live in.
There is no show without Jamie New and this touring production gave the audience a real treat with the casting of Layton Williams in the lead role. I’ve been lucky to see Layton in previous productions but never in a lead role of such magnitude. Layton oozes charisma, charm and effortless star quality as he delivered the sensitivity, passion and humour of this wonderful character in one perfect performance. His mother, Margaret New, was played by impressive Amy Ellen Richardson who brought the house down with her performance of my personal favourite He’s My Boy. Shobna Gulati, as Margaret’s best friend and Jamie’s adopted Aunty – Ray, gave a brilliant comedic performance and delivered some classic one liners that had the audience in hysterics. There are many great female parts in this show, from the villainous Miss Hedge (Lara Denning) to the best friend we all know and love, Pritti Pasha (Sharan Phull). Sharan Phull was simply captivating as Pritti and her performance of It Means Beautiful was delicate and memorable.
Giving us more comedic performances on the night, Shane Richie as Hugo/Loco Chanelle and the ladies of Legs Eleven, Laika Virgin (JP Mccue), Tray Sophisticay (Rhys Taylor) and Sandra Bollock (Garry Lee) were a force to be reckoned with as they delivered the glam, glitz and laughs that we know and love about the drag world. Jamie’s classmates impressed and delivered the modern, energetic choreography (Choreographer Kate Prince) with electric precision, bringing the buzz of the UK classroom to the Birmingham stage.
What I love about this show is it dares to show us who we can be if we believe in ourselves. It is refreshing to hear songs sang in regional accents and see a diverse cast that reflects our existing society, something some productions still really struggle to get right. Everybody’s Talking About Jamie is a gem of a musical with a timeless message and one not to be missed at a theatre near you.
We say: “There is a reason Everybody’s still Talking About Jamie. Witty, powerful and relevant. This show is a real gem!”