Everybody’s Talking About Jamie
Thursday 05 July 2018
TV documentary, Jamie: Drag Queen at 16, was the inspiration for this heartwarming show about a 16 year-old’s goal to wear a dress to school prom. And yet, the theme is so much bigger. So much more. This is about having a dream and digging deep inside to find the confidence to make it happen. What’s more, it’s about doing so despite vulnerability, despite the social pressures it can create amongst peers. But it’s also about friendship and support to fight for a greater good. Not bad for a musical ultimately centred around a frock.
It’s a fresh-feeling, energetic frolic, which doesn’t shy away from serious issues surrounding gender identity, hate bullying and the difficulties faced by single mothers covering for absent fathers who just don’t care. It’s so relevant to 2018, with a book that gets the wider context bang on the money.
Being based on an inner city council estate ourselves, barely a stone’s throw from Old Market, the gay heart of Bristol, these are characters I recognise. School children we see. Issues and situations raised on a daily basis. This musical is real and yet perfectly blends the difficult with flamboyant making us genuinely roar with laughter one moment and cry the next.
The cast is superb. There isn’t a single superficial, stereotypical performance in the show.
John McCrea is an absolute delight as Jamie New. He radiates real energy and warmth from this larger than life character. And wow, can he move across that stage in towering heels. Attending the screening with my eleven-year-old son who has more than his own fair share of flamboyance, he declared Jamie to be an ‘inspiration’.
There were times the cinema audience completely forgot where they were, with bursts of applause for Josie Walker’s incredible vocals as the angst ridden single mother Margaret New. And, for Lucie Shorthouse’s Pritti Pasha.
Lucy Carter’s lighting design turned set changes into impossibly fast cuts.
We didn’t know this show at all before watching the broadcast other than some minimal details. It didn’t make any difference. Dan Gillespie Sells’ music and Tom MacRae’s book and lyrics are so accessible you could sing along with it by the finale. Jonathan Butterell’s direction pulls the story together beautifully, enhanced by Kate Prince’s fine choreography.
I was surprised by the live broadcast in 2018, coming so soon in the musical’s short history. But wow what a show. So glad they chose to share it with everyone outside of London. The broadcast was brilliantly done and it’s made us want to see the show live.
This is definitely the best new musical I’ve seen in years. It’s funny, moving, gritty, determined and of course, absolutely fabulous.
For more information about Everybody’s Talking About Jamie and to book, visit: http://www.everybodystalkingaboutjamie.co.uk
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