Drag queens, catchy tunes and blood orange heels – Everybody is, indeed, Talking About Jamie! Caroline Dask heads to the Theatre Royal for a night of glitz and glamour…
Everybody’s Talking About Jamie is the critically acclaimed West End musical that is currently gracing the stage at Theatre Royal from 16 until 20 January. It follows the story of Jamie New, a sixteen-year-old who lives on a council estate in Sheffield. Jamie doesn’t quite fit in and he is terrified of the future.
With a secret dream to become a drag queen, Jamie gets bullied at school for his quirks and mannerisms. But little do his bullies know that Jamie is going to be a sensation. Supported by his brilliant loving mum and surrounded by his friends, he beats the bullies and steps out of the darkness, into the spotlight.
It’s a story as unique as ever. Based on the true events of Jamie Campbell, a boy from a small village in County Durham with a dream and a dress.
Let The Night Begin…
A cold Tuesday evening calls for some soul-warming distractions. So, after a busy day at Luxe HQ, we’re heading for a night of delightful food and exquisite theatre. Just hours before Everybody’s Talking About Jamie, we stop by Mantra Thai and needless to say, their food and service set a beautiful start to the night.
As Theatre Royal fills up, the buzz for the show ahead fills the air. As the musical starts, it becomes clear from the very first minute; the cast is full of talent, each member possessing their own charm and quirks.
Everybody’s Talking About Jamie: The Cast
Finton Flynn plays Jamie New and from the moment his voice echoes on stage, it becomes evident that we’re in for a treat. Watching this show for the first time, I couldn’t imagine a better Jamie. Finton’s portrayal of the role is extremely powerful, blending moments of vulnerability with character strength. Jamie is on a complex path of self-discovery. Yet this complexity is easily delivered to the audience, with a chance of finding a small part of yourself in the emotions and actions of Jamie.
Finton Flynn brings a magnetic energy to the stage. One that commands attention, drawing you in and making you root for the character’s dreams and aspirations. Finton’s ability to navigate a portrayal of emotions, taking the audience on a rollercoaster from sadness to happiness and resilience is nothing short of perfection, so very worthy of a standing ovation.
Rebecca McKinnis playing Jamie’s mother, Margaret New, does a remarkable job of bringing a sense of authenticity and a layer of tenderness to the production. As a mother navigating the challenges of accepting and supporting her son’s dreams, McKinnis effortlessly conveys the dynamic of the mother-son relationship. Rebecca brings the meaning of unconditional love to something tangible and incredibly powerful as she stands up for her son in more ways than one.
Shobna Gulati, playing Ray, is impeccable with her delivery of timely one-liners. Ones that don’t fail to leave the audience in tears of laughter, bringing a sense of lightheartedness to a story that is extremely powerful and important.
The Drag Queens
John Partridge takes the stage as Hugo / Loco Chanelle. One of the most striking aspects of this performance is his undeniable stage presence. As the vivacious mentor and drag queen extraordinaire, John balances flamboyance with heartfelt sincerity, thereby creating a character that serves as an anchor for the emotional core of the narrative.
Anthony Gyde (Ky Kelly) as Laika Virgin; Garry Lee as Sandra Bollock and David Mcnair as Tray Sohisticay / Young Loco Chanelle collectively steal the spotlight. They deliver a glamorous and incredibly funny display of drag excellence that adds an extra layer of brilliance to the production. Although sweet and short appearances, they tie the musical together. In that way, making these moments integral to the overall success of Everybody’s Talking About Jamie.
Everybody’s Talking About Jamie: The Music
An element of the show that I was extremely looking forward to was the music. It simply surpassed my already high expectations, becoming the heartbeat of the production. The soundtrack, brilliantly composed by Dan Gillespie Sells and Tom MacRae, delivered by the talented band of Danny Belton, Adam Smith, Matthew Billups, Jack Fawcett, Robert Greenwood, James Higginson and Claire Shaw, was spectacular.
‘The Wall In My Head’ performed by Finton Flynn playing Jamie delivers a powerful message. It highlights self-liberation and breaking down the barriers of societal expectations. Finton Flynn’s emotive delivery as Jamie infuses the lyrics with a raw authenticity that simply tugs at the heartstrings.
The empowering ‘Spotlight’ emerges as a true showstopper in Act One. Talia Palamathanan’s vocals harmonise seamlessly with the Year 11 girls’ backing vocals. The song enhances a pivotal moment in the narrative when Jamie steps into the spotlight.
‘He’s My Boy’ carries a lot of emotional weight. Rebecca McKinnis, playing Margaret New, delivers a masterful and soulful vocal performance of it. She infuses the song with profound maternal warmth and vulnerability. All while conveying the depth of a mother’s love and the emotional complexities that come with accepting a child’s true identity.
Who Should See It?
Everybody’s Talking About Jamie is a theatrical and musical triumph. One that I would not mind seeing a second, and a third time. It explores themes of self-discovery, acceptance, and the courage to defy societal norms. This is what makes it a poignant and resonant experience for audiences of all ages.
The musical combines humour, heart and relevancy, a recipe for an outstanding show. Whether you’re a theatre fanatic or simply someone who enjoys good music, Everybody’s Talking About Jamie created by Jonathan Butterell and Matt Ryan, is a must-see inspiring celebration of the human spirit.
Everybody’s Talking About Jamie is playing at the Theatre Royal 16 – 20 January, grab your tickets here.