Beyond South Wales: Everybody's Talking About Jamie, Apollo Theatre, London
And so, it was to the Apollo Theatre on Tuesday evening; as we went to see our first West-End Show as a family. Its usually an effort for us all to find something to everybody’s tastes, but Everybody’s Talking About Jamie, the story of a school leaver from Sheffield who doesn’t quite fit in with society won us over on every level.
We had managed to secure excellent prices on our theatre tickets for the family at the beginning of the day, (so, if you happen to be in the vicinity, its always worth checking out the theatre and official outlets for that last-minute deal!).
The musical follows sixteen-year-old Jamie New, that although facing worries about his feature does have one certainty, he wants to become a drag queen and wear a dress to the leavers’ prom! Supported by his brilliant loving mum and surrounded by his friends, Jamie overcomes prejudice, beats the bullies and steps out of the darkness, into the spotlight.
Watching the production in the intimate setting of the Apollo Theatre, we really felt part of the action from the offset. A silhouetted band played behind classroom windows while school pupils sang and danced with tight choreography to And You Don’t Even Know It as this musical off to a fine start.
EastEnders star Rita Simons holds attention as careers teacher, Miss Hedge and delivers a stunning rocking vocal on the song, Work of Art, while Bill Ward, known for his roles in Coronation Street and Emmerdale brings depth and reality to the persona of seasoned drag queen, Coco Chanel.
Rebecca McKinnis brings warmth and strength to her portrayal as Jamie’s mum, Margaret, stealing the show with two memorable performances of the songs, If I Met Myself Again and He’s My Boy. Combining realism with musical magic, Miss McKinnis is certainly a must-see of the West-End stage!
Layton Williams brings energy, charisma and occasional vulnerability to Jamie. The whole family particularly enjoyed his performance of a timid schoolboy that blossoms in confidence throughout the production and no doubt transfers the strong message that we really can be whoever we want to be, no matter what others say or think.
I also really enjoyed Sejal Keshwala as the rather brassy but fun Ray and Sabrina Sandhu as Jamie’s best friend, Pritti Pasha. Both roles are essential to Jamie’s development as people to turn to, while showing their own strengths when overcoming attitudes thrown at them by opposing factors or bullies.
Dan Gillespie’s music for this memorable modern-day musical took everyone to an all-time high by the evenings climax, in fact I’d enjoyed the show so much I didn’t want it to end. I’m excited that Everybody’s Talking About Jamie will be embarking on a UK tour in 2020. As a new, memorable and feelgood 21st Century Musical, it certainly deserves to be seen by as many people as possible!
For further details about this show visit www.everybodystalkingaboutjamie.co.uk