FeaturedMusicalReviewSouth West

Everybody’s Talking About Jamie – Theatre Royal, Plymouth

Reviewer: Indigo Cleverley

Book/Lyrics: Tom Macrae

Music: Dan GIllespie Sells

Director: Jonathan Butterell

Following a record-breaking three years in London’s West End, UK and Ireland tour and an award-winning Amazon studios film, Everybody’s Talking About Jamie returns to the stage in impressive style.

Inspired by the 2011 BBC documentary ‘Jamie: Drag Queen at 16’, the coming-of-age show follows eponymous Jamie New whose flamboyancy and dreams of drag are frequently beaten down by the barriers of working-class Sheffield, merciless teenagers and an ignorant dad. But can Jamie step out of the darkness and into the spotlight on the drag stage?

From the first second, the stage is illuminated in a vibrant flood of light (lighting design by Lucy Carter) and we are introduced to Jamie’s school and classmates which are very akin to real British secondary schools through the scruffy blazers, disruptive students and enforced careers lessons which nobody enjoys.

Every member of this cast is incredible and gives their everything into the performance. Every classmate, although existing as Jamie’s ‘backing singers’, each have their own distinguished personality and collectively produce some brilliant dance numbers; the opening of act 2 ‘Everybody’s Talking About Jamie’ really stands out.

Rebecca Mckinnis shines as Margaret, Jamie’s Mum, conveying the entrapment of encouraging Jamie to dream big but also be realistic and the protectiveness as a Mum. Mckinnis’s delivery of the emotive ballad ‘He’s My Boy’ pulled on everybody’s heartstrings with the poignant sorrow, regret and anger that comes with watching your kid grow up and be independent.

Kevin Clifton portrays retired drag queen ‘Loco Chanelle’ who aids Jamie’s confidence to be his true self and performs the marvellously melodramatic ‘The Legend of Loco Chanelle’ telling the savage backstory of his drag persona – Clifton’s stage presence is spectacular.

Leading the show, Ivano Turco gives a spectacular performance as vivacious, passionate teen Jamie New with his stunning vocals and delicate, effortless runs – Turco embodies the character of Jamie in all his charismatic glory, it’s hard not to love him.

Dan Gillespie Sells’s musical score is a diverse mix of high-energy pop songs and heartbreaking numbers which all flow naturally with the storyline and provide a further insight into character emotions and motivations. Many of the big numbers are exceptionally catchy and I was humming the finale ‘Out of the Darkness’ all the way home after the show.

Tom MacRae provides the book and lyrics, building on Sell’s magnificent melodies and delivering dialogue which is comedic and memorable but also at times, bitter and cruel leaving audiences audibly gasping.

Anna Fleischle’s set and costume designs are visually impressive with the miserable setting of Sheffield clearly portrayed through projections of rain and general greyness – the set pieces are subtle but ensure smooth transitions between scenes. Costumes are inevitably a vital part of a story including drag and Fleischle does not disappoint – the drag queens’ breathtaking outfits in the final scene are insane and deserve the blaring applause.

With direction from Jonathan Butterell, this production is bursting at the seams with colour, energy and passion which is infectious leaving it hard to walk away feeling anything but inspired and smiling. With catchy songs, a talented cast and an important moral message, everybody should be talking about Jamie.

Runs until 6th April 2024

The Reviews Hub Score

Fabulously Flamboyant

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The Reviews Hub - South West

The Southwest team is under the editorship of John McRoberts. The Reviews Hub was set up in 2007. Our mission is to provide the most in-depth, nationwide arts coverage online.

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