Last week, I was lucky enough to be able to attend a live screening of the west end show Everybody’s Talking About Jamie, streamed directly to my local cinema from the Apollo Theatre in London. A young woman who used to go to our dance school (Courtney Bowman) is performing in it, so a group of us went along to see her. I really loved it and wanted to share my thoughts as I feel this show deserves a lot more attention!
Everybody’s Talking About Jamie is a musical based on the life of Jamie Campbell, who was the subject of the BBC Three documentary Drag Queen at 16. It’s all about a sixteen-year-old boy who lives on a council estate in Sheffield and dreams of becoming a drag queen. He begins to explore his identity and share his dream with his friends and family, leading to him wanting to attend his prom wearing a dress.
It’s a fabulously camp show with a feel-good vibe, but it also tackles some serious topics like bullying and homophobia. As you can imagine, even though Jamie has some wonderfully supportive people in his life, not everyone accepts him. He has to face a lot of prejudice and rejection from people he loves on his road to becoming who he is meant to be.
I think this show has come at the perfect time, as TV shows such as RuPaul’s Drag Race have brought attention to drag as an art form, and with the current political climate, LGBT+ issues are more relevant than ever. As someone who is cis-hetero, I can’t really speak for the LGBT+ community to say whether the representation is accurate. However, I do feel that this show encourages discussion and promotes open-mindedness, which can only be a good thing.
The cast is fantastic and hugely talented. Jamie is played by John McCrea who is absolutely brilliant in this role. He has a beautiful voice that I could listen to all day, as well as legs and cheekbones to die for! His acting was exceptional. I’ve since watched an interview with him where he says how he is completely different from his character in real life, but he plays the part so well that it’s hard to imagine!
Lucie Shorthouse, who plays Jamie’s friend Pritti Pasha, is also a wonderful singer and actress. I really enjoyed her song ‘Beautiful’, which was really touching. I liked that they touched on the prejudices that Pritti faces as a Muslim girl who chooses to wear a hijab and as a gifted student who puts effort into her studies.
Jamie’s mum Margaret, played by Josie Walker, also stood out for me. She sings a beautiful song about how her son drives her crazy and will break her heart when he leaves, but he’ll always be her boy. Her performance was so emotional and had me welling up so many times throughout the show. Together, she and McCrea portray a really special mother-and-son relationship, that isn’t always easy, but is stronger than any prejudice. I was sad to hear that Walker is moving on from the show because she was amazing. Rebecca McKinnis who is taking on the role has huge boots to fill, but hopefully, she will be good.
Other notable performances are Shobna Gulati (from Dinner Ladies and Coronation Street) who is hilariously entertaining in her role as family friend Ray, and Phil Nichol, who plays Hugo (and his drag-queen alter-ego Loco Chanel) with emotion and humour. Nichol is also sadly leaving the cast, to be replaced by Lee Ross.
I really enjoyed the soundtrack to Everybody’s Talking About Jamie, to the extent that I added the CD to my wishlist as soon as I got home. There are some fantastic catchy-numbers like “And You Don’t Even Know It”, “Everybody’s Talking About Jamie” and “Out of the Darkness” that will leave you feeling happy and exhilarated. The choreography is lively and modern and the costumes are bright, colourful and unique.
There are also some beautiful ballads such as “The Wall in my Head”, “Beautiful”, “If I Met Myself Again” and “He’s my Boy” that will have you reaching for the tissues. So it’s a huge emotional rollercoaster!
You can listen to some of the songs from the show here.
I would recommend this musical to everyone who wants to experience a beautiful and uplifting story about self-discovery. If you’ve ever wanted to show your true colours to the world, to learn to accept yourself or to follow your dreams, this show is for you!
You can find out more and purchase tickets here.
Before you go…
Have you seen this show or would you be interested in seeing it? Let me know in the comments!