Book and Lyrics: Tom MacRae
Music: Dan Gillespie Sells
Director: Matt Ryan
This delightful, feelgood musical is a real-life modern-day fairy tale based on a TV programme that documented sixteen-year-old Jamie Campbell’s wish to attend his High School prom in a dress. Since it first premiered at Sheffield’s Crucible Theatre in 2017 the musical has become an international smash hit, enjoying a record breaking three year run in the West End and receiving critical acclaim as an award-winning film. Embarking on a second UK tour this sparkling production returns to the Lowry radiating high camp, pizzazz, and unashamed sentimentality
Set on a council estate in Sheffield, Jamie lives with his single mum Margaret, he is different and wonderfully unique, sometimes as a boy he wants to dress like a girl and has a dream of becoming a drag queen. With his best friend Pritti he battles bullying and prejudice and tries to fit into a world that is reluctant to accept him for who he is. On the verge of leaving school Jamie is encouraged to fulfil his dream by Hugo, a veteran drag queen. In Hugo’s faded grandeur, Jamie finds the father figure that has alluded him all his life, he is taught that to succeed in drag he must be angry and fierce. Supported by Hugo, his mum and family friend Ray, Jamie finds the inner power and strength to confront his detractors and emerge triumphant into a place where he feels safe and truly belongs. The show charts this journey brilliantly with dynamic choreography, catchy show tunes by The Feeling’s Dan Gillespie and an excellent cast who provide enough energy to power the National Grid.
Performed on an igneous set comprising of a neon clad cube with giant video screens, the show is pacey and punchy throughout. Heading the cast as Jamie, Ivano Turco performs with effortless ease. He captures Jamie’s frailties and insecurities perfectly, whilst also bringing his character’s inner Diva to the fore, this is a bravo and career defining performance. As Margaret, Rebecca McKinnis, gives one of the most nuanced and heart wrenching performances this reviewer has seen in a musical for a long time. Her exquisite rendition of ‘He’s My Boy,’ in which Margaret lays bare her unconditional love for Jamie is one of the musical’s highlights. Veteran TV and West End performer John Partridge is excellent as Hugo, his transformation into alter ego Loco Chanelle is a tour de force.
It comes as no surprise that this musical has become so popular, it clearly resonates with audiences of all ages and genders. Jamie Campbell’s life affirming, coming of age story is timeless, this terrific musical is something that everybody who sees it will be talking about for a long time to come.
Runs until 17 September 2023