Review by: Paul Towers, 14 March 2018
Everybody’s talking about Jamie by Dan Gillespie Sells and Tom Macrae
A Sheffield Theatre production directed by Jonathan Butterall
Apollo Theatre, London from 22 November 2017 ongoing
“energetic, outrageous, life affirming.”
In 2011 BBC3 showed a documentary called Jamie: Drag Queen at 16. From that Sheffield Theatres developed a musical based on the story of a 16 yr old gay boy who wanted to go to his school prom in a frock. Dan Gillespie Sells of pop group The Feeling collaborated with playwright Tom Macrae to create an energetic, outrageous, life affirming story of triumph amid adversity.
Everybody’s Talking About Jamie takes the basic premise and opens it up to encompass a message about bullying, sexual awakening and the unconditional love of a mother.
The songs are very specifically divided into two genres; Jamie and the youngsters have a selection of songs that I thought very reminiscent of Boy George’s in Taboo. The adults have altogether different songs which reminded me of the score to Blood Brothers. Both these comparisons are highly complimentary.
The set, designed by Anna Fleischle is a marvel of adaptability and houses the onstage band high up above the action.
The youngsters in the ensemble play a wide variety of characters in various costumes. Some of them requiring very quick changes. However none of them are as quick as that of drag queen Tray Sophisticay, played by James Gillan, whose dress changes from red to white as he walks behind a stage prop. It was so slick that my companion hadn’t even noticed til I pointed it out.
My one criticism of the show itself is that I wanted the finale to be a taste of Jamie’s stage show, an anthemic f**k you to the world.
That said John McCrea as Jamie is surely a new star. I look forward to seeing what he does next.
Everybody’s Talking About Jamie is at the Apollo Theatre on London’s Shaftsbury Avenue for the foreseeable future.
Full details of booking at www.nimaxtheatres.com/theatres/apollo-theatre/