Everybody's Talking About Jamie

“The party's just started and you don't want to miss it!”.

What started as a modest BBC documentary, ‘Jamie: Drag Queen at 16’, Everybody’s Talking About Jamie continues to take the world by storm. Now into its second UK tour, the musical was recently transformed onto the big screen to positive reviews.

The show tells the story of Jamie New who dreams of being a drag queen. Through the support of his mum and close friends, Jamie overcomes prejudice and bullying and steps out of the darkness and into the spotlight; a place where he belongs. 

The creative team remain the same in this replica production of the previous tour and the run in London’s West End. Seamless set design by Anna Fleischle, slick choreography by Kate Prince and immersive lighting by Lucy Carter continue to impress the audience throughout.

In this tour, notable alumni are welcomed back into the company including Rebecca McKinnis as Margaret New, Hayley Tamaddon as Miss Hedge (see website for venues) and of course Shobna Gulati as Ray- who has become synonymous with the show. This time however, we have Ivano Turco stepping into the heels previously worn by John McCrea and Layton Williams as Jamie. Ivano has been on my radar since his professional debut in Andrew Lloyd-Webber’s Cinderella as Sebastian – his ballad ‘Only You, Lonely You’ being my most played song of 2022, but moving swiftly on…

Ivano brings an innocence to Jamie I’ve not seen previously and combined with his beautiful vocals, a new Jamie is born. John Partridge takes on the role of Hugo/Loco Chanelle, Jamie’s mentor. His portrayal of Hugo felt raw and authentic, although I wish there was more of a contrast when Loco is grandly reintroduced to her audience. 

Shobna Gulati and Rebecca McKinnis have fantastic chemistry on stage with just the right balance of heart and humour. In fact, I think I would find it hard to watch a production of Jamie without Shobna starring at this point. 

This is the hardest 4 stars I have ever given and let me tell you why. I have seen this show multiple times and I’m a huge fan. However, the lyrics have already become dated in parts and what started as a musical which celebrated diversity could well still segregate people based on stereotypes. An example of this being in ‘Work of Art’, the lyric reads: “A boy in a dress is something to be laughed at, but a drag queen is something to be feared.” In 2023, it feels like we have moved past this. If this line were to remain, the show needs to be set concretely in the past with its timeframe presented to the audience. A nod, perhaps, to how society’s stance on social norms continues to change and evolve.

Also, the sound at The Lowry this evening was more miss than hit. The sound levels during most of the dialogue were a stretch to hear, even from the front of the stalls and under a speaker. I was familiar with the material prior to attending so this helped, however, for the first timers in the audience, they may have struggled to hear some of the now iconic dry one-liners or the lyrics to the catchy soundtrack.

To conclude, Jamie is a hit. The cast are fantastic and will only continue to strengthen in their performances as the tour progresses- I just beg the sound engineers to come out of the darkness and fire up a show that everybody should be talking about!

This show was reviewed at The Lowry, Salford on the 12th September 2023.  Everybody's Talking About Jamie runs there until the 17th September 2023.  Tickets available here: Everybody's Talking About Jamie | What's on | The Lowry

Full tour details here: Tour Dates and Book Tickets - Everybody's Talking About Jamie (everybodystalkingaboutjamie.co.uk)

Review written by Lee Gregory

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Photo credit: Matt Crockett

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