Everybody’s Talking About Jamie is the story of a sixteen-year-old boy from Sheffield who wants to become a drag queen. This musical is the definition of feel-good, it has upbeat pop songs combined with an uplifting storyline and energetic dance numbers. Everyone left the theatre smiling. It’s the sort of show where you end up loving every single character except for the ones that you’re supposed to hate. It seems like the type of story that could be a bit too progressive and unusual to appeal to everyone, perhaps alienating some audiences, but the entire theatre was laughing out loud throughout. The comedy is clever and at the same time seems to capture the way the way that real people speak. The show has a diverse range of characters from different backgrounds without making a point out of being diverse. It was especially refreshing to see a musical theatre performance where one of the lead roles is a character who wears a hijab.
The set is simple but versatile, using a backdrop of plain grey brick to give the feel of a northern industrial town but outlined with bright lights which helped to distinguish the different scenes. The costumes were often simple, as the majority of the show was set in and around the school, but this made the more flamboyant outfits of the drag queens even more impressive and striking.
John McCrea was amazing as Jamie, pulling off both effortless confidence as well as moving emotional moments and some gravity defying moves in very high heels. However, it must be said that Josie Walker, who plays Jamie’s mother, and Lucie Shorthouse, who plays his best friend Pritti, both stood out in their solo songs. Their powerful ballads gave the show more emotional depth and showcased their very strong vocal abilities. The chorus of Jamie’s school friends were very convincing, embodying real sixteen year olds in the way they spoke and danced.
The show evolves from its light-hearted beginning into a serious and touching message of support for individuality and freedom of expression, while still maintaining the humour that keeps it feeling down to earth. The storyline could probably be described as predictable, but the comedy in the writing keeps it engaging, and the emotional performances of the cast keep the audience emotionally invested in the characters, even if it is possible to guess how it turns out.
Reviewed by Emma Grimsley
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These tickets were kindly provided by London Box Office.