After closing in the West End a mere 6 months ago Everybody’s Talking About Jamie has hit Wimbledon! The show is based on the true story of a 16 year old boy in Sheffield who has the dream of becoming a drag queen and ultimately being able to wear his dress and a pair of heels to his school prom. Along the way he encounters a his father who has turned his back on him, a bully school and aa former legendary drag queen who takes him under their wing.
The book by Tom Macrae is a masterclass in story writing for musical theater. At it’s heart is a story about acceptance of yourself and others but told through the lens of Jamie. The book itself is witty and relevant and I switched between laughing out load to feeling a huge amount of empathy for the characters. Not only does it peel back the layers of Jamie himself but also of many of the supporting characters including Jamie’s mum, Margaret and his best friend Pritti Pascha. These characters were all multi-dimensional and you found yourself rooting for all of them throughout the show. The only exception to this was Jamie’s dad, although to develop his character future would have done little to further the story, predominantly told through Jamie’s eyes.
For the performance I saw, and all performances in Wimbledon, Adam Taylor played Jamie New. He was captivating in the role, he had the perfect amount of sass needed but paired with vulnerability when needed. He is utterly natural in the role and the quips and the moves never feel forced. The rest of the cast are equally as strong, Amy Ellen Richardson plays Margaret New and her rendition of ‘He’s My Boy’ made me fall in love with the song all over again. Sharan Phull played Pritti Pasha and she had bundles of character as well as a memorable and tender version of ‘Beautiful.’ One thing that was particularly encouraging to see on stage was the racial diversity and how none of the characters weren’t tokenistic.
The choreography by Kate Prince is exciting and fresh moving between more traditional musical theater styles to street dance, helping to underline the relevance of the production. A particular highlight was the opening of the show, ‘And you Don’t Even Know it’ where the school desks turns into a catwalk and back again throughout the number. The desks also allowed for interesting leaps and formations, a brilliant use of set!
Sine I first saw Everybody’s Talking About Jamie, I have become much more familiar with the score and this certainty helped with my enjoyment of the music. Some of the music doesn’t grab you at first listen but many of the songs certainty grow on you. Despite the fun nature of the show it is actually the slower songs that land the best with ‘The Wall In My Head’ ‘It Means Beautiful’ and ‘He’s My Boy’ being prime examples of these.
The show has been modernized with references to Covid and Tik Tok however I struggled with this on occasion. Whilst there is a long way to go in the UK regarding acceptance I struggle now to believe that drag is as unknown now as it was when the real Jamie New was experiencing this all. For that reason I actually think it works best as a piece if kept in the original time.
Everybody’s Talking About Jamie is a show with a lot of joy and fun in it but most importantly a beautiful message that is well told. A moving show with a cast that do justice to Jamie’s story and a show that needs to be seen by many to help spread the message of acceptance.
To find out more about Everybody’s Talking About Jamie and to book tickets you can visit their website.
If you like this review of Everybody’s Talking About Jamie you might also like my review of Six, Pretty Woman and Priscilla Queen of the Desert.