Everybody's Talking About Jamie

“A beautifully important story”

In the world of musical theatre, few shows have managed to captivate audiences and leave a lasting impact quite like "Everybody's Talking About Jamie." This extraordinary production burst onto the stage in 2017, inspired by the heartwarming true story of a teenager who dared to break free from the norms of his small town and pursue his dreams of becoming a drag queen and it’s a story that still needs telling today in the current climate we find ourselves in surrounding the beautiful LGBTQ+ community.

Set against a backdrop of lively music and dazzling choreography, "Everybody's Talking About Jamie" is more than just a musical; it's a powerful ode to self-acceptance, resilience, and the enduring human spirit. This remarkable story resonates with audiences across the world, breaking barriers and pushing the boundaries of societal norms.

Having seen previous productions of this show, I was excited to see how the show has evolved and of course meet the most recent Jamie New in the shape of Ivano Turco, who fitted perfectly into those beautiful red shoes.  Turco really is an emerging star in the world of musical theatre, with an incredible voice, he personifies the phrase ‘triple threat’ and his portrayal of our protagonist was heart felt, brave and sassy in equal measures.

Stepping back into the role of Jamie’s Mum, Margaret is Rebecca McKinnis.  Firstly, the chemistry between mother and son was wonderful and McKinnis is every inch a powerhouse in the vocal department.  Her renditions of ‘If I Met Myself Again’ and ‘He’s My Boy’ were nothing short of spectacular and gave me some real goosebump moments.   Also stepping back into the role of Ray, Margaret’s best friend and fierce ally of Jamie is Shobna Gulati.  What a treat it is to see Gulati portray this role again.  Her comic timing is just perfect, and she lifts many moments with witty one-liners and a fantastic array of knee-high boots!

Jamie’s best friend Pritti Pasha is played by Talia Palamathanan.  One of my favourite songs from this musical is ‘It Means Beautiful’ and Palamathanan was able to bring a stunning vocal that once again tugged on the heartstrings. 

There is no shortage of memorable characters in this show, each adding their unique flair to the story. Among them, Miss Hedge, played by Hayley Tamaddon who is portrayed as the strict and somewhat unorthodox schoolteacher who simply doesn’t understand Jamie’s dream of becoming a drag queen and struggles to find compassion or garner support of his situation.  Tamaddon was able to expertly deliver her musical moments in ‘And You Don’t Even Know It’ and ‘Work of Art’.

Playing Jamie’s mentor and father figure, Hugo is the incomparable John Partridge.  Playing the role with a real sense of love and protection towards Jamie, Partridge displays his simply exquisite vocals during ‘The Legend of Loco Chanelle (And The Blood Red Dress)’ and ‘Over The Top’ quite literally blowing the roof of the auditorium.  The transformation into Loco Chanelle was a real treat for the eyes, with a sprinkle of Jessica Rabbit, Partridge looks stunning in every way.

The music, written by Dan Gillespie Sells, carries the story with melodies that range from catchy and uplifting to deeply emotional. Songs like "And You Don't Even Know It" and "It Means Beautiful" encapsulate the essence of Jamie's journey, while the anthemic "Everybody's Talking About Jamie" serves as an empowering anthem of self-affirmation.

Equally captivating are the costumes and choreography that bring Jamie's drag world to life. The vibrant, extravagant outfits and energetic dance sequences add a visual spectacle to the show, making it a feast for the eyes as well as the heart.  The ensemble cast bring such an energy to the show, especially during the opening of Act 2.

There were a couple of issues on the night with the sound and lighting.  On occasion the band were much louder than the performers meaning that some of the vocals were lost, which for a show packed full of incredible voices, it was a real shame.  Also, during ‘If I Met Myself Again’, the two dancers, who performed so beautifully whilst McKinnis delivered another incredible performance were not lit, which once again distracted from its beauty.

In a world that sometimes seems divided and uncertain, "Everybody's Talking About Jamie" stands as a shining example of the transformative power of love, resilience, and the belief that we all have the right to be our authentic selves. It is a musical that everyone should be talking about, a joyful celebration of the strength of the human spirit and the beauty of diversity.  It’s definitely a place we should all belong.

This show was reviewed on the 10th October 2023.  Everybody's Talking About Jamie runs at the Birmingham Hippodrome until the 14th October 2023.  Tickets available here: Everybody’s Talking About Jamie – Birmingham Hippodrome

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

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Photo Credit: Matt Crockett

 

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