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Everybody's Talking About Jamie - musical review


Jamie New is back and the headline act! Taking to the stage at London’s Peacock Theatre, as well as the forthcoming tour, plenty of audiences will experience the beautiful telling of the boy in the heels. After becoming a hit, Everybody’s Talking About Jamie is now a staple sensation of theatrical success, and thoroughly deserving this.

The aspiring drag queen is played by Ivano Turco, who gives an incredible and fitting performance in the role. Having to follow in the footsteps of some other star talents, he is equally worthy of the lead and continually demonstrates strong skills on stage. With a refreshing plot, the rise and fall of his chosen career path is autobiographically based on 16-year-old schoolboy, Jamie Campbell, and his desire to be thrust into the spotlight, the place where he belongs.

Reflective of contemporary schooling, the classroom atmosphere is immediately relatable and amusing for anyone remotely familiar. From banter being batted about to bullying and the more serious side of combinations of personalities, the show tackles the whole range for a rounded picture of Jamie's experience. Exploring the meanings of identity from multiple perspectives, we follow that of his but also best friend, Pritti Pasha (Talia Palamathanan) and beloved, supportive mum (Rebecca McKinnis), and their family dynamics. Encouraging tolerance and understanding, it highlights the pure joy of being able to express who we truly are - certainly inspiring messages for anyone, but crucially important for teens in the process of self-discovery.

Becoming a thoroughly engaging and enjoyable narrative, Jamie was never destined to be a forklift truck driver or prison guard. Contrary to the belief of his opposing career guidance teacher, Miss Hedge (Giovanna Fletcher on selected dates), his passion carved out a life of other grandeur. Through some struggles along the way, he is met with drag extraordinaire, Loco Chanelle (John Partridge on selected dates), and several other aptly-named performers, Laika Virgin (Anthony Gyde), Sandra Bollock (Garry Lee) and Tray Sophisticay (David McNair). Dean (Jordan Ricketts) is a horrible lad, picking on Jamie and failing to realise the consequences, both the strength and destruction it caused. Alongside Jamie's sweet mum, Margaret New, almost always stands Ray - the feisty best friend with cracking yet brutal advice, should you ever need it.

Set to a fantastic soundtrack, including a whole host of numbers you'll be humming for days afterwards, Dan Gillespie Sells and Tom Macrae's music and lyrics immerse you in the lives of the characters. Energising or emotional, it's all captured. Difficult to select standouts as so many are excellently executed, most are a must for your musical playlists. Slick yet dynamic choreography by Kate Prince accompanies the group pieces such as 'And You Don't Even Know It' and the title track, juxtaposed with isolating merit on the solos, 'It Means Beautiful', sung by Pritti, and 'The Legend of Loco Chanel', by Hugo, the man behind the makeup. Rebecca McKinnis gives a breathtaking performance of 'He's My Boy', drawing the audience into her world with stunning vocals and rich meaning behind each word sung: without a doubt an unforgettable note.

Being hilariously honest in following the reality of the connections between characters, there's an abundance of laughs to be had while an array of quips and comments are genuinely funny, as well as meaningful. Direction by Jonathan Butterell ensures to enhance the contributions from every element of the script to their full potential and works well in conjunction with the swift shuffling of set pieces (by Anna Fleischle, also on costumes) to keep the pace flowing nicely.

In all, it's hard to fault a show as celebratory of life as this. The Sheffield superstar has arrived, and you don't want to be missing out when Everybody's Talking About Jamie is in town.


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