Everybody’s Talking About Jamie

Treading similar territory to the mega-hit Kinky Boots, this joyously feel good musical about a teenage drag queen is now firmly ensconced in the West End following its successful transfer from Sheffield. Peter Gray reports.

There is something so fresh and delightful about this story of the 16-year-old student who rises above the taunts of the classroom bullies to realise his dream of becoming a teenage drag queen and thankfully the London theatre version of the story really brings the story to life.

Mercifully then, Jamie is back in the West End, with a covid secure, tier 2 compliant theatre. The show will run from the 20th of May 2021 until the 29th of August 2021.

Much like the aforementioned Kinky Boots which it closely resembles, Jamie was inspired by a BBC documentary. The programme tells the story of Jamie Campbell, a sixteen-year-old student from Sheffield.

We learn that from an early age Jamie has dreamt of being a drag queen. This doesn’t go down particularly well at his local school however with Jamie quickly attracting the attention of a gang of bullies. Spurred on by the support and encouragement of his mother Margaret however, Jamie decides to get one over his tormentors with one powerful act of defiance.

The would be drag queen hires a film crew, as much for security as for anything else, and he prepares to attend his school prom – wearing a dress. The film is a revealing portrait of the challenges young people face when discovering and acknowledging their sexual identity. The film ends with Campbell turning up at his school in a frock, high heels and a flowing blonde wig.

It is this story which Jonathan Butterell, Tom Mcrae and Dan Gillespie Sells have attempted to adapt for the London theatre stage. The result is an exuberant, joyous triumph which packs a powerful emotional punch. The musical tackles the bullying and harassment that Jamie faced at school as well as his ultimate triumph over it.

The central relationship in the show is between Jamie and his mother Margaret, a kind and encouraging woman who recognises and fully supports Jamie’s ambitions. In one early scene we see Ms Campbell hand her son a box which is opened to reveal a gleaming pair of red high heels. It’s Jamie’s sixteenth birthday.

It is this powerful familial bond that binds Everybody’s Talking About Jamie together and gives the story such a powerful emotional anchor. Josie Walker is particularly good as Margaret, Jamie’s mum, showing the passion and steely determination of a mother determined to do right by her son.

Director Jonathan Butterell’s production is full of energy and colour with video projections and a live band adding to the atmosphere. The music too is faultless with The Feeling frontman Dan Gillespie Sells creating an irresistible mix of pop and big, emotional show stoppers.

However the real star of this London theatre show is undoubtedly John McCrea playing Jamie. It is a star making turn with McCrea perfectly capturing the mix of bravado and vulnerability that make up the young protagonist.

Everybody’s Talking About Jamie is a musical with colour, emotion and above all heart. Don’t miss it.

Everybody’s Talking About Jamie is at the Apollo Theatre. More information about the show can be found here.

-London's Best Events-
What: musical theatre
When: 20 May - 29 Aug 21
Where: Apollo Theatre
Website: Jamie