WORTH A LOOK?: *****
WHEN: 15/2 (matinee), runs to 25/2
WHERE: Sheffield Crucible Theatre
UPDATE 21/6: JAMIE TRANSFERS TO THE APOLLO IN LONDON’S WEST END IN NOVEMBER: Tickets
We’re big fans of band The Feeling and frontman Dan Gillespie Sells has written the score for this new pop musical which we predict will transfer easily into London’s competitive West End.
- Read on for reasons including the true story behind Everybody’s Talking About Jamie
The idea for Everybody’s Talking About Jamie came when director Jonathan Butterell saw the BBC3 documentary Jamie: Drag Queen At 16, the true story of Jamie Campbell who went to his Durham school’s prom in a dress.
Musical theatre star Michael Ball put Gillespie Sells and Doctor Who screenwriter Tom MacRae (Everybody’s Talking About Jamie author and lyricist) in touch with Butterell.
The story could simply have been Billy Elliot graduates to Kinky Boots but is actually far less predictable and when we meet Jamie at the start of the show he is out and proud despite being encouraged to be a forklift driver, yet occasionally wishes he could dress as a woman.
First standout number is The Legend of Loco Chanel (And The Blood Red Dress) thanks to its humour and enthusiastic performance by Charles Dale as a veteran drag queen and dress store owner.
What also distinguishes Jamie from those musicals before it is the emphasis given to Jamie’s journey in finding himself thanks to the support of those around him but also learning to be less selfish along the way. Josie Walker as his mother Margaret reinforces the importance of the mother/son relationship with big emotional songs If I Met Myself Again and Jamie duet My Man, Your Boy.
At the centre of it all is a talented ensemble pulling off fantastic routines which wouldn’t be out of place in pop videos, especially in the classroom sets which evoke Matilda, but also its star Jamie New, played by John McCrea, who gives both a stand-out performance now (see clip below) and is a name to watch out for in future.
We moaned recently that the CD for Gary Barlow’s new musical The Girls was unavailable at the Phoenix Theatre and not only were we able to hear many of Jamie‘s songs in advance on the internet, the soundtrack, including contributions from pop stars Sophie Ellis Bextor and Betty Boo, is on sale at the Crucible.
We also very much enjoyed the character of Jamie’s BFF the hijab-wearing Pritti Pasha (the strong Lucie Shorthouse) who learns that her brain and ambition to be a doctor may make her a weirdo in school but that geeks and outsiders like her will inherit the earth. Mina Anwar (The Thin Blue Line, Shameless, Coronation Street) is also a joy as steely role model Aaliyah ‘Lee’ Begum who steps in as bullies circle when Jamie’s spineless dad tunes out.
Our hopes were skyscraper as we sat down for Everybody’s Talking About Jamie yet that high bar was cleared effortlessly. It’s running at Sheffield’s Crucible until 25/2 and it’s definitely worth travelling miles and miles for.
We’d be amazed if it didn’t follow in the footsteps of Billy Elliot and Kinky Boots to give the West End its own special make-over.