Apollo Theatre, London – until 21 April 2018
Everybody’s Talking About Jamie has been one of my most highly anticipated shows of 2017 since I heard the rave reviews during it’s run at the Sheffield Crucible. Based on real life events, it tells the story of 16-year-old Jamie New, who’s dreams are a little different to his classmates. Chronicling the struggles of growing up, issues with family and being accepted, it’s the warm, British, comedic show the West End has been waiting for.
The real story was adapted for stage by composer Dan Gillespie-Sells and Tom MacRae, and is their first foray into the world of musical theatre. Dan’s soundtrack is sublime with a faultless mix of upbeat, pop numbers such as ‘You Don’t Even Know It’ as well as heart-achingly beautiful ballads, my personal favourite being ‘Wall in My Head’.
Tom MacRae’s book is equally fantastic; humour is perfectly balanced with drama and pain to make the show ebb and flow seamlessly. Of course the prodcution is camp but it’s not over the top or forced and the classroom scenes are just hilarious. Nothing is overdone and despite some comments falling slightly flat, every moment of dialogue is truly realistic- it feels like watching real life play out rather than performers on a stage.
On the surface this is a show about drag but the real focus is on the relationships between Jamie and his peers and specifically between him and his mum Margaret, played wonderfully by Josie Walker. It’s wonderful to see a parent so supportive of their child even though they’re not what people may perceive as ‘normal’, and it’s made even more special by the fact that we know it’s based on a true mother/son relationship. Whilst Margaret and Jamie’s struggles may contrast to others, the story shows just how important mum’s, and not just mum’s but whoever your supports in life, are. We all fight with and irritate those who are close to us but that’s just because we love them and it’s so joyous to see this love played out so sweetly and genuinely on stage.
John McCrea is faultless as Jamie, even in his ludicrously high stilettos! He is quick witted, sarky and exudes life and joy- I want to be his friend! His voice is great and he just does the most outstanding job every second he’s on stage (and he’s basically on stage every second.)
His best friend and partner is crime, Pritti is performed fantastically by Lucie Storthouse. ‘It Means Beautiful’ is sung wonderfully by her and the extremely clever staging adds a magical element to it. It almost becomes a prayer and is a touching scene.
Katie Prince’s unique choreography fits the show perfectly and adds a fresh and modern feel. The contemporary dance during ‘If I Met Myself Again’ is breathtaking and certainly a standout moment of the entire show.
Overall, Everybody’s Talking About Jamie is the perfect injection of life, modernity and sass that the West End is craving. It’s a story about being yourself no matter what and facing your fears head on. For a contemporary, spectacular piece of British theatre, get yourself along the the Apollo theatre and start talking about Jamie!