Sunday, May 26

Everybody’s Talking About Jamie – Sheffield Lyceum

Seven years after its Premiere at the Crucible Theatre in February 2017, Everybody’s Talking About Jamie returns to its hometown of Sheffield this week. With endless Sheffield references the story can’t fail to be a hit here… and it hits the bullseye!

Based on the 2011 Firecracker documentary Jamie: Drag Queen at 16, the true story of Jamie Campbell follows the struggles of his teen years in light of societal bigotry, as he becomes who he was born to be. A boy in a dress and more shockingly at his Prom! Jamie’s journey to acceptance through his tumultuous school years is heightened by the knowledge he is different and doesn’t fit the social norms of the day. His birth father sees him as ‘disgusting’ but amongst all this, Jamie has his supporters none more so than his single Mother, Maureen, her friend Ray and Jamie’s bestie Pritti Pasha (a Muslim with a Hindu name), whose own struggles draw parallels to his own. As we all remember our school years were about fitting in, about the ‘in’ crowd and not being the target of the bullies, whose own lives coerce control to fit in too. A mine field… I remember it well and without relish!

This original Sheffield Theatres Production handles these coming of age issues with sensitivity and enlightenment. Original idea and co-writing by Jonathan Butterell, joined by writers Dan Gillespie (Music) and Tom Macrae (Book and Lyrics) and direction by Matt Ryan, the production is slick, catchy and relevant. The set design by Anna Fleischle is effective and allows the housing of the band and moving flats to portray school, home, shop and nightclubs. The choreography by Kate Prince is laced with relevant movement of the era and the situation, creating a powerful backdrop to the story and the ensemble’s set moving is a thing of choreographed beauty!

From the opening toe tapping number – And You Don’t Even Know it – the cast bound the enthusiasm of youth with sharp choreography and on point characterisations. As the fourth actor to play Jamie, Ivano Turco brings something new to the role, a more sensitive, self-doubting portrayal with an aesthetically engaging comedic tone. Turco does a great job of pulling the audience emotionally through the tribulations with consummate ease.

The absolute showstopper number for me has to be He’s My Boy, Georgina Hagen as Margaret is exceptional in role and brings the house down with this rendition.  Her powerhouse vocals are wonderful, and Hagen’s If I Met Myself Again was also one of my favourite numbers, with Jessica Daugirda and Josh Angela Omana in the interpretive dance roles, this number was emotively impactful and nearly brought a tear to my eye. Jordan Ricketts gives a stellar performance as Dean allowing us to understand and empathise with his reasoning behind his bully boy approach. A mention must go to Annabelle Laing as classmate Becca, who drew my eye whenever she was on stage, such a dynamic performer. Understudy Rhiannon Bacchus played a convincing Pritti Pasha and Sam Bailey with strong vocals, a stern Miss Hedge. Kevin Clifton was captivating in the role of Hugo/ Loco Chanelle and brought a wonderful realness to the character that I hadn’t seen in previous productions. Anthony Gyde, Garry Lee and David McNair as the Drag Queens Laika Virgin, Sandra Bollock and Tray Sophisticay were hilarious as always and firmly portrayed the dark side of the Drag world. Their ‘glitter and glamour’ in the dressing room of Legs Eleven spoke a thousand words.  

What a great evening’s entertainment – Without a weak link on or off stage, this touring production of Everybody’s Talking About Jamie has lost none of its appeal over the last seven years and stays fluidly relevant and emotive. With the toe tapping tunes and the stunning performances, this is a must see, that will leave you smiling and questioning in equal amounts, as all good theatre should.  You can catch the show at the Sheffield Lyceum until Saturday 20th April 2024, and you will definitely be ‘Talking about Jamie’ afterwards!

Reviewer: Tracey Bell

Reviewed: 10th April 2024

North West End UK Rating:

Rating: 5 out of 5.