Everybody’s Talking About Jamie is based on the true story of Jamie Campbell whose dream of being a drag queen at 16 led to him attending his high school prom in drag. The musical is based on the BBC documentary Jamie: Drag Queen at 16 and although many parts of the story have been embellished, those who have seen the documentary will find much of the story familiar.
The musical begins with year 11 attending a careers class. The opening song ‘And You Don’t Even Know It’, really sets the scene for the rest of the musical with its high energy and infectious melodies from composer Dan Gillespie Sells, who you may know as the frontman of The Feeling. The ‘class’ were fantastic throughout and their chemistry onstage made their performances all that more entertaining and hilarious to watch. The opening song of Act 2, ‘Everybody’s Talking About Jamie’ was particularly entertaining.
Tamsin Carroll as Miss Hedge gave a solid performance as the strict and straight-talking careers advisor who attempts to suppress Jamie’s dreams of wearing a dress to prom. Lucie Shorthouse deserves high praise indeed for her performance as Jamie’s best friend, Pritti Pasha. She demonstrated an accomplished vocal performance in her solo ‘It Means Beautiful’, which she sang to her friend Jamie in his time of need. There were some excellent performances from Phil Nichol who became Jamie’s drag mentor, Hugo Battersby, as well as his accompanying drag performers Laika Virgin (Alex Anstey), Sandra Bullock (Daniel Jacob) and Tray Sophisticay (James Gillan).
The star of the show was undoubtedly John McCrea who portrayed the extravagant and fabulously camp Jamie New. McCrea brought just the right level of vulnerability and courage to the role, making it all the more believable and touching. His impressive dancing skills, (both in and out of heels) and his perfect comedic timing were delightful. Yet he was still able to deliver in the more emotional scenes bringing much of the audience to tears particularly during ‘My Man, Your Boy’ performed alongside the incredibly talented Josie Walker who played Jamie’s supportive mother. Walker again showed off her vocal talents during ‘If I Met Myself Again’.
I loved the set design attributed to Associate Designer Loren Elstein, which made the transitions between scenes slick and effortless. This allowed the pathos of the piece to remain uninterrupted between the more emotional scenes and lent itself to creating a really dynamic show.
This show is about finding and being true to yourself and the people who help you get there. I loved how it promoted acceptance regardless of background, religion or sexual identity. This is a show for everyone and not exclusively for the LGBT+ community.