Everyone’s Talking About Jamie, Apollo Theatre, London, Review:
***** 5 Stars
“A triumph, a place where we all truly belong!”
Originating as a 2011 Documentary, “Jamie: Drag Queen at 16” which told the story of Jamie Campbell who wanted to go to his school prom in drag, backed by the ever-loving support of his mother Margaret. Jamie took on the school, its staff, rules, bullies and an uncaring and perhaps homophobic father that lead him to learning about himself and the world around him and changed it just that little bit for the better.
As source material for a musical its themes rich in acceptance, individuality and loving one’s self and the friends that enrich people’s lives was too good to pass up for Dan Gillespie Sells (Music and Orchestrations), Tom Macrae (Book and Lyrics) and Jonathan Butterwell (Director and Co-Writer).
Commissioned by the Sheffield Crucible theatre and opening in February 2017 and running for three sold out weeks it played to critical acclaimed and the final matinee was attended by west end impresario (and owner of Nimax Theatres including the Apollo) Nica Burns who stepped in as producer and has brought the show to the glittering west end where it will run until Spring 2019.
This production which boasts such a rich blend of humanity, gifted performances, comedy and drama that the audience is swept along with Jamie every step of the way. Returning to the Role and making his leading west end debut as “Jamie New” following originating the role in Sheffield is the truly gifted John McCrea who imbues the part with honesty and sass in equal measure that makes him endlessly watchable. Playing his mother “Margaret New” is west end veteran Rebecca McKinnis. McKinnis is the lynchpin of the show her portrayal of a woman who has given everything including her hopes and dreams for the love of her son is a testament of acting prowess and worthy of the price of a ticket alone.
Supported by a large ensemble company many of whom have made the journey from Sheffield to Shaftsbury Avenue there are many standout performances but none more so than Lee Ross as “Hugo Battersby” a faded drag queen star who gets by on memories and selling gowns to the new generation of queens. Until he meets Jamie and feels moved to help him and revisit “Loco Chanel” once more. It’s a touching and delicate turn from Battersby that shimmers in and out of drag and makes for a highlight of the show.
Featuring Sharp Choreography by Kate Prince, Design by Anna Fleischle, Lighting Design by Lucy Carter and sound design by Paul Groothuis all the elements are working in perfect harmony on this production which brings the best of British theatre making to support a very modern British story that shines brighter than the lights of Shaftsbury avenue.
What makes Everyone’s talking about Jamie a true 5-star triumph and a place where we all belong is that we all long to be accepted for who and what we are regardless of how other people perceive us as individuals, for reaching out and sharing that message we owe Jamie Campbell a great deal of thanks. We can also be thankful that this wonderfully beautiful show will continue to share that message. With a film version now in the works you can be sure the west end production will run and run, so hurry along to the Apollo and see why everyone is quite rightly talking about Jamie.
Everyone’s Talking about Jamie, Apollo Theatre, Booking until April 2019. For Tickets go to: http://www.everybodystalkingaboutjamie.co.uk