EVERYBODY’S TALKING ABOUT JAMIE
Music by Dan Gilespie Sells book & lyrics by Tom Macrae.
From an idea by Jonathan Butterell.
The Apollo Theatre, Shaftesbury Avenue, London WC2 1 booking to
– Sat 7.30pm Mat Wed & Sat 2.30pm.
Runs 2hr 45 mins One interval.
TICKETS: 0330 333 4809.
Review: William Russell 27 November.
Little boy grows up in the most delightful way
This charming little show is about Jamie New, a sixteen year old gay boy in Sheffield, who dreams of becoming a drag queen and dancing in a dress at his school end of final term dance. It is based more or less on a true story about a boy called Jamie Campbell from a Durham mining town which inspired by a television documentary about him. British audiences love drag acts so it could well enjoy a long run although it is not the greatest musical ever – there is no ten o’clock tune, the one to send the audience out humming – and the story itself not really one of scaling impossible heights because everyone at school knew Jamie was gay, more or less accepted it, and he did get to be a drag queen.
The big plus is that John McCrea, who plays Jamie New, is a performer blessed with a hugely attractive stage personality and a more than half decent singing voice. One roots for the lad. Dad left his Mum years ago, having dismissed their son as a freak, but Mum keeps up the pretence he is just too busy to visit and Jamie appears not to have rumbled the deceit. When he finds out he is most upset, which is about as bad as it gets.
Josie Walker as Mrs New is superb and her big Act Two song – He’s My Boy – really does stop the show. As to why she has a gay son, well Mum appears to have turned in to a lesbian – she sports a manly haircut and trousers and has a female friend who visits a lot – so maybe there is more going on than we are told. The plot, however, makes nothing of it.
The scenes at Jamie’s school are nicely done, the young actors playing his school mates display amazing energy, and there is an appealing performance from Lucie Shorthouse as Priti, a young Moslem with brains, which most of the other kids do not have, who wants to be a doctor. The first Act when Jamie makes his debut as a drag queen, which we are spared, wisely since there is no evidence the lad has bothered to construct an act to go with his dress, ends with a glorious special effect which sends the audience out to the bar smiling.
There are also four rather dreary drag queens who offer advice and fail to convince that Jamie’s ambition is such a good idea, a world weary careers teacher – a nice performance from Tamsin Carroll – and an inventive set to help pass the time. Patently inspired by the likes of Billy Eliot and Blood Brothers, but none the worse for that, everything ends happily with Jamie in a dress dancing with the homophobic schoolboy who has taunted him mercilessly throughout. Whether everybody will talk about Jamie is anybody’s guess, but this is undeniably a three star show with four star performances from John McCrea and Josie Walker.
Jamie New: John McCrea.
Margaret New: Josie Walker.
Ray: Mina Anwar,
Miss Hedge: Tamsin Carroll.
Pritti Pasha: Lucie Shorthouse.
Hugo Battersby: Phil Nichol.
Laika Virgin: Alex Anstey.
Tray Sophisticay: James Gillan.
Sandra Bollock: Daniel Jacob.
Jamie’s Dad: Ken Christiansen.
Levi: Daniel Davids.
Dean Paxton: Luke Baker.
Fatimah: Courtney Bowman,
Sayid: Jordan Cunningham.
Mickey: Ryan Hughes.
Bex: Harriet Payne.
Cy: Shiv Rabheru.
Becca: Lauran Rae.
Vicki: Kirstie Skivington.
Director: Jonathan Butterell.
Designer: Anna Fleischle.
Choreographer: Kate Prince.
Lighting Designer: Lucy Carter.
Sound Designer: Paul Groothuis.
Video Designer: Luke Halls.
Musical Director: Theo Jameson.