Everyone’s Talking About Jamie and I really need to talk about it too. If you don’t know what I’m on about, it’s time you did. Everyone’s Talking About Jamie is a bold and exciting musical that’s currently showing at The Apollo, Shaftsbury Avenue in London. It transferred from The Crucible Theatre, Sheffield.
As a very self-indulgent aside: I always wanted to play at the Sheffield Crucible (I auditioned in front of the amazing Sue Townsend for a role in Adrian Mole years ago. The play was due to open at The Crucible, and no, dear reader, I didn’t get the part).
Back to the review: Jamie, 16, lives on a council estate in Sheffield. He wants to be a drag queen. Funny, sad, funkily choreographed and staged, the show is quite brilliant.
Based on the BBC 3 Documentary ‘Jamie: Drag Queen at 16’, the stage show, with its predominantly young, vibrant and diverse cast, packs a powerful and moving punch.
John McCrea plays Jamie, the gorgeous, gangly teenager whose careers teacher suggests he should be a fork-lift driver. His performance is believable, strong and very sassy. Along with his school friend Pritti Pasha (played by Lucie Shorthouse) they make a dynamic, talented duo.
In a touching scene between the two, Pritti encourages Jamie to wear a dress to the school prom. Then she tells him that in her culture his name would be Jamil, which means ‘beautiful’. She sings (and what a stunning voice she has):‘it means something that’s always yours to keep, it’s the face you don’t take off to go to sleep, you are beautiful.’
Amongst the cast is Lee Ross, famous for his roles in Eastenders and The Catherine Tate Show. He is butch, solid Hugo, who half way through the show morphs into drag queen Loco Chanelle who helps Jamie to follow his dream. Shobna Gulati, who is also a household name for her role in Coronation Street and Dinner Ladies, adds dynamic, big- hearted back up. But actually, all the cast are excellent. I loved every minute of the show.
In this current climate of bigotry and ignorance that’s been given new life by the likes of Trump and Farage, it’s refreshing to see a West End show cover issues that we all need to know about and understand. When theatre or film is good it can be so transformative. And right now, everyone really should be talking about Jamie.
Go see it!
Music by Dan Gillespie, Book and Lyrics by Tom Macrae.
Directed by Jonathan Butterell.