Review: Everybody’s Talking About Jamie, at Apollo Theatre
John McCrea is stunning as schoolboy who dreams of becoming a drag queen in a story that’s rooted in real life
01 December, 2017 — By Howard Loxton
John McCrea in Everybody’s Talking About Jamie. Photo: Alastair Muir
A SCHOOL profiling programme predicts 16-year-old Jamie New will be either a forklift truck driver or a prison guard – but he wants to be a drag queen.
This is his story, inspired by a real-life one. If that doesn’t sound like your thing, think again!
This lively new musical certainly set everyone talking when it premiered in Sheffield. Dan Gillespie Sells and Tom Macrae’s script and catchy tunes now have London talking too.
It’s a tale of rejection by dad and bullying at school but support from mum and her best friend and the kindness of a middle-aged drag act help Jamie overcome self-doubt and he wins through, egged on by Pritti Pasha, the brightest girl in his class.
Josie Walker (Margaret New), John McCrea (Jamie New) and Mina Anwar (Ray). Photo by Johan Persson
It starts at school, with Miss Hedge’s careers talk, though it’s her Jimmy Choo shoes that catch James’s attention. His classmates form the chorus, though that seems the wrong word for each is so individual, full of vitality and lively moves, especially in the title song.
Tall, platinum blond John McCrea is amazing as Jamie, outrageous yet managing to make the audience love him, and Lucie Shorthouse is delightful as clever warm-voiced Pritti. These are stunning performances in a great cast, with Josie Walker touchingly real as mum Margaret. She has two great numbers in He’s My Boy and If I Met Myself Again looking back on what might have been, to which choreographer Kate Prince provides a beautiful dance for her young self and her husband.
Tamsin Carroll is a teacher more understanding than she seems on the surface and Phil Nichol triumphantly funny as warm-hearted Hugo (aka Loco Chanelle) with Alex Anstey, James Gillan and Daniel Jacob as fellow drag artistes.
Ken Christiansen is bigoted dad, Luke Baker the bully and the whole cast deliver under Jonathan Butterell’s direction.
Drag glamour is a kind of game, but this show isn’t about artificial glitz, it’s rooted in real life and bursting with energy. Joyous and life-enhancing, it truly earns the standing ovations it is getting.
UNTIL APRIL 21, 2018
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