Everybody’s Talking About Jamie

Mar 4 2020 | By More

★★★★☆  Joyous

Festival Theatre: Tue 3 – Sat 7 Mar 2020
Review by Sarah Moyes

Luckily for this new musical, everybody is talking about Jamie, and for all the right reasons in this funny, heart-warming and joyous show which plays at the Festival Theatre until Saturday and tours to Glasgow in June.

Everybody’s Talking About Jamie, on tour in the UK for the first time, is inspired by the 2011 documentary Jamie: Drag Queen at 16. The documentary was created after Jamie, who dreamed of becoming a drag queen, contacted production companies asking them to tell his story when his school told him he couldn’t wear a dress to his high school prom.

Layton Williams as Jamie. Pic: Johan Persson

The story is reminiscent of Billy Elliot, another young boy fighting against society’s views just to be accepted. Jamie and his mum made a special appearance at the Festival theatre for the opening performance, and they told All Edinburgh Theatre that the reason the show is set in Sheffield and not their hometown of Durham is because it would have had too many similarities to the well-known Billy Elliot story.

It all begins in a classroom where Jamie reveals to his classmates and teacher that he wants to be a drag queen during the opening number, And You Don’t Even Know It, a catchy upbeat song, which returns many times through the show.

Reprising his role from the West End production, Layton Williams is a triumph in the role of Jamie. He is perfect in his hilarious portrayal of the teenager who is sometimes full of confidence yet still struggles as he comes to terms with being a drag queen in public.

red high heels

However, it does feel like something isn’t quite right with Layton’s voice. At times his voice sounds either tired or as Layton has been unwell recently. While it doesn’t really effect his performance too much, you can tell he isn’t operating at 100%.

Shane Riche as Hugh. Pic: Johan Persson

When Jamie returns home from school that day, his mum Margaret played by Amy Ellen Richardson and her best friend Ray, played by Coronation Street’s Shobna Gulati, are waiting for him with his sixteenth birthday present – a pair of red high heels which begin his journey to becoming the drag queen he always wanted.

Also coming from the West End production is Shane Richie who takes on the role of drag dress shop owner Hugo, who also happens to be a former queen himself named Loco Channelle. Shane brings a wealth of theatre experience to the role as he heart-warmingly mentors Jamie through the most life-changing time of his life.

Since Jamie’s father, played by Cameron Johnson, is absent and dismissive of his decision to be a drag queen, Hugo steps in a father-like figure who even helps Jamie to book his first drag show. And, despite threats by school bully Dean played by George Sampson, the show goes on.

The music by Dan Gillespie Sells, lead singer-songwriter of The Feeling, with lyrics by Tom MacRae turns out to be a winning combination. There are some real gems here and they are given stand out performances from Richardson on the emotionally powerful He’s My Boy and, on the the sweet And It Means Beautiful, by Sharan Phull as Jamie’s best friend Pritti.

Jamie’s story is one of courage against adversity, but one that is full of humour and love too. A real joy to watch from start to finish.

Running time: 2 hour 40 minutes (including one interval)
Festival Theatre, 13/29 Nicolson Street EH8 9FT. Phone booking: 0131 529 6000.
Tuesday 3 – Saturday 7 March 2020
Evenings 7.30pm; Matinees Thurs & Sat 2.30pm
Tickets and details:  Book here.

Everybody’s Talking About Jamie on tour 2020:
3 – 7 March 2020 Edinburgh
Festival Theatre
0131 529 6000 Book online
10 – 14 March 2020 Northampton
Royal & Derngate
01604 624 811 Book online
16 – 21 March 2020 Birmingham
The Alexandra Theatre
0844 871 3011 Book online
23 – 28 March 2020 Canterbury
The Marlowe Theatre
01227 787787 Book online
30 March – 4 April 2020 Newcastle
Theatre Royal
08448 11 21 21 Book online
6 – 11 April 2020 Brighton
Theatre Royal
0844 871 7650 Book online
20 – 25 April 2020 Nottingham
Theatre Royal
0115 989 5555 Book online
28 April – 2 May 2020 Aberdeen
His Majesty’s Theatre
01224 641122 Book online
5 – 9 May 2020 Llandudno
Venue Cymru
01492 872000 Book online
12 – 16 May 2020 Southampton
The Mayflower Theatre
02380 711811 Book online
18 – 23 May 2020 Cardiff
Wales Millennium Centre
029 2063 6464 Book online
26 – 30 May 2020 Bristol
0844 871 3012 Book online
1 – 6 June 2020 Norwich
Theatre Royal
01603 63 00 00 Book online
8 – 13 June 2020 Glasgow
King’s Theatre
0844 871 7648 Book online
16 – 20 June 2020 Liverpool
08448 713 017 Book online
23 – 27 June 2020 Wolverhampton
Grand Theatre
01902 429212 Book online
29 June – 4 July 2020 Leicester
Curve Theatre
01162 423 595 Book online
6 – 11 July 2020 Woking
New Victoria
0844 871 7645 Book online
13 – 18 July 2020 Leeds
Grand Theatre
0844 848 2700 Book online
21 July – 1 August 2020 Salford
Lowry Theatre
08432 086000 Book online


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