Since debuting in the West End back in 2017 the dazzling story of a teenage boy’s dream of becoming a drag queen has enraptured audiences all around the globe. Inspired by the 2011 television documentary Jamie: Drag Queen at 16, Everybody’s Talking About Jamie delivers a healthy amount of sass, laughter, and copious amounts of heart wrenching moments.
Layton Williams takes on the role of Jamie New, the Northern teenager who at the age of just 16 looks to defy social norms and attend his school prom in a dress. Williams shines in the lead role really bringing us into his character’s journey throughout the show. His vocals were smooth, his acting sublime but the real showstopper comes in Williams dancing ability which oozed high energy and all whilst in a pair of high heels.
Joining Williams is Sharan Phull who portrays best friend Pritti Pasha the Muslim schoolgirl with high hopes of becoming a doctor. Phull brought us a meek but yet quietly affirming depiction wowing the audience with her rendition of It Means Beautiful. The unlikely friendship between Jamie and Pritti is the perfect example of how we should learn to accept people for who they choose to be even when faced with derogatory remarks from school bully Dean played by George Sampson.
We also get the opportunity to explore Jamie’s relationships with both of his parents. Cameron Johnson briefly stars as Jamie’s dad and his non acceptance of who Jamie has grown up to be is devastating to watch. Watching Amy Ellen Richardson portray suffering mum ‘Margaret New’ was the treat of the evening. Richardson’s Act 2 number He’s My Boy teaches us that whatever struggles and pain that parenting brings, a mother’s love never falters. An outstanding vocal with equal amounts of emotion brought many a tear to the audience.
Supporting cast comes in the form of Shane Richie as veteran drag queen Hugo/Loco Chanelle the mentor to Jamie who pushes the teenager to never give up and always chase the dream. Richie provides many a laugh whilst balancing his characters past struggles. Soon to be also starring in the film adaptation playing Ray is Shobna Gulati. Most famous for her role in Coronation Street Gulati gives us brazenness and an untouchable razor wit.
The show from start to finish is bold, bright and shows us what modern musical theatre ought to be like. From an incredible ensemble to a simple yet effective set, everybody does need to be talking about Jamie and not miss an opportunity to experience this glorious show.
Everybody’s Talking About Jamie plays at The Alexandra Theatre, Birmingham until 18 September.
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