REVIEW - Great to have 'Everybody's Talking About Jamie' back in Brum - The Bromsgrove Standard

REVIEW - Great to have 'Everybody's Talking About Jamie' back in Brum

Bromsgrove Editorial 11th Oct, 2023 Updated: 11th Oct, 2023   0

I LAST reviewed  ‘Everybody’s Talking About Jamie’ in 2021 – now it’s back again, this time at the Birmingham Hippodrome with a (mostly) brand new cast in a brand new tour and playing to packed houses once again.

It was a debut show for the creative team back in 2017– Tom Macrae wrote the book and lyrics, Dan Gillespie Sells wrote the music and orchestration and Jonathan Butterell who did some all round co-writing and was the original director of both stage and screen versions.

Butterell also came up with the idea based on a TV documentary he happened on a few years earlier. That followed the true-life story of 16-year-old British schoolboy Jamie Campbell, as he overcame prejudice and bullying to become a drag queen.

Picture by Matt Crockett. s

The story touches on the many challenges that face parents and school leavers today – what career path to take, dreams v reality, colour, class, religion and sexuality with a capital S. All intricate back-stories and comments wrapped up in the big picture of Jamie’s dream of being a drag artist.

It features an excellent songbook across a broad church of styles. Standouts for me were ‘The Wall In My Head’ sung by Jamie, ‘He’s My Boy’ from Jamie’s mum Margaret and of course the title song, which includes pretty well the whole company at various stages.

Picture by Matt Crockett. s

Anna Fleischle’s set, where school desks become catwalks and the back wall becomes a cacophony of imagery is both practical and brilliant. The ‘wall’ takes us into various locations and opens up ingeniously, spilling rooms including a practical kitchen and a toilet block, onto the stage. Best of all, the back wall has a penthouse at its apex, which lights up every so often revealing what I can only describe as an Andy Warhol painting of a movie film strip. In each frame a band member sits silhouetted.




New for this tour are some amazing giant projections of Jamie’s big moments.


Matt Ryan directs each scene with fluidity, pointing up the poignant moments and merging everything seamlessly.  He is served well by a company in full harmony with each other.

Some stand out performances for me – Rebecca McKinnis as Jamie’s Mum, Margaret, Shobna Gulati, who reprises her role as Margaret’s buddy Ray and Talia Palamathanan as Jamie’s school chum Pritti Pasha.

Jordan Ricketts makes much of the role of Dean Paxton, Jamie’s school nemesis and Ky Kelly makes for an hilarious drag queen Laika Virgin.

John Partridge is spot-on as the aging, warm-hearted, drag artist Hugo and looks absolutely stunning when he dresses as his Alta ego character Loco Chanelle.

Ivano Turco is the fourth Jamie to wear the red shoes in the role and he captures the gliding catwalk gait, the charm, charisma and the petulance.

Unfortunately, I did find him difficult to hear in act one and I presume this was microphone settings as it improved after the interval.

It was really good to have Jamie back in town, even though this was less magical than I found it first time, it gave us lots to talk about once again though and it got a well-earned standing ovation.

Everybody’s Talking About Jamie is at the Birmingham Hippodrome until Saturday, October 14. Click here for times, tickets and more information.

****

Review by Euan Rose

Euan Rose Reviews

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