WORTH A LOOK?: *****
WHERE? Apollo Theatre RUNTIME: 2 hours and 40 minutes (including a 20-minute interval)
WHEN? 10/5 and booking until 25/1/20
Faye Tozer is a member of pop supergroup Steps who was a runner-up in 2018’s Strictly Come Dancing and now takes on a West End role as a teacher in this award-winning musical.
- Read on for reasons including whether the cast changes work for this fabulous show
This is our 4th visit to Everybody’s Talking About Jamie since its birth in Sheffield in 2017 and its successful West End transfer later that year.
It won our Best New Musical monsta that year and has recently seen Layton Williams arrive as our new titular hero with Tozer and drag queen Bianca Del Rio joining the cast this week. We last saw Williams in a touring production of Rent and predicted a brighter future for him. However, he’s not performing tonight and instead understudy Luke Latchman plays the lead.
Jamie is the story of a 16-year-old from Sheffield who wants to be a drag queen and decides to go to his prom in a dress after encouragement from his mum and best friend. The music was co-written by Dan Gillespie-Sells from The Feeling and there are many reasons why the musical still works despite this cast change.
Tozer plays Jamie’s careers teacher Miss Hedge and it’s a role which requires her to look stern for the most part and only really sees her tested in opening song And You Don’t Even Know It, where she raps while standing on school desks, and vogueing during Work Of Art.
We’d never heard of drag queen Bianca Del Rio before tonight (she won a season of RuPaul’s Drag Race) but she’s the 1st turn we’ve seen to actually do justice to what’s arguably the show’s finest set piece The Legend Of Loco Chanel. We see (real name) Roy Haylock both in and out of drag and it is as his alter ego that he really sparkles in the otherwise middling Act 1 show closer Over The Top.
Latchman is not the only understudy acting up tonight and we enjoyed both Courtney Bowman as best friend Pritti and Melissa Jacques as Jamie’s mum Margaret. We’re desperate to see Williams as Jamie but Latchman was a charismatic triumph in the starring role.
We got chills during Jacques’ big moment He’s My Boy and Bowman’s Beautiful was just sublime. Sometimes ill-advised cast changes can threaten a show but Tozer and Del Rio are both fine additions here and it looks like everybody will be talking about Jamie for some time to come.