Everybody’s Talking About Jamie received a 4.4-star average across its Sheffield and London premieres, with seven 5-star pro reviews greeting it at the Apollo Shaftesbury Avenue. As Tom Wicker (Time Out) explained, the show was “inspired by” a “documentary about a teenager who wanted to be a drag queen”. Tim Bano (The Stage) found it “bang up to date … alive … fresh” and “unapologetically, hilariously, aggressively camp … brilliant”. Daisy Bowie-Sell (What’s On Stage) declared it “exuberant, exhilarating, exciting, enchanting” and “ebullient” admiring “British grit”. She saw Jamie’s tale “moulded into an upbeat, layered, coming-of-age story that will resonate” and found Tom MacRae’s book and lyrics “scrappy, honest, hilarious” giving “the whole thing … delightful punch”. Wicker hailed “funny” dialogue which “often lands with a sting” declaring the whole “a burst of joy … the real deal”.
Bowie-Sell felt director Jonathan Butterell’s “chief achievement is to gather together a high-energy, tight ensemble and let them rip”. She praised Kate Prince‘s “attitude-heavy movement” and Wicker found Jamie “pulse-racingly choreographed”. Bano found Anna Fleischle’s “stylish set … reinforces the idea of Jamie as a splash of lurid glitter in the greyness of life”. Wicker found the whole “a high-impact blaze of colour” which “captures the frenetic energy of being a teenager” and felt “every element … works beautifully together”. Bowie-Sell found ”the second half … soars”.
She admired “satisfying songs” by MacRae and Dan Gillespie Sells, “more pop than musical theatre” but “when they work … a total treat”. Wicker praised “a deft mix of irresistibly catchy, pop-honed foot-tappers and truthful, heart-wrenching numbers”. Bowie-Sell highlighted a “funky earworm” title track, and the “truth and rawness” of one ballad among songs to “make you weep”.
Bano found John McRea’s Jamie “a force of nature” as he “brings charm and sass, struts and sashays, to every detail of his huge performance”. Wicker hailed “a star-making turn … charismatically sharp” which also “deftly reveals the ache of vulnerability behind his character’s catwalk strut”.
Bano found Josie Walker as Jamie’s mum “a tortured tangle of vicarious living, unconditional support and sad resignation”. Bowie-Sell thought her “magnificent” and Wicker “superb” particularly when she “pours her heart into the spine-tingling ‘If I Met Myself Again’”. He found the stories of supporting characters also “crisply told”, thought Lucie Shorthouse “funny and affecting” and said Mina Anwar “lights up the stage”. Bano praised “the brash brilliance” of drag trio Alex Anstey, James Gillan and Daniel Jacob.
He summed up a show “defined by pride, by a lack of shame, by love and fun and the defeat of bigotry… corny … sometimes trite, but it knows it and doesn’t care.” Bowie-Sell found it “dynamic, deliciously entertaining … a glorious tribute to what makes us human and a heart-warming appeal for acceptance”. Wicker saw “Sells and MacRae craft a world that bubbles with hope but doesn’t ignore its hardships” yet found the result “a joyous punch in the air” a “fabulous” genuinely “life-affirming” show which “owns the stage”.
Currently booking to 21 Apr 2018, with tickets from £23 available via StageScan. And if you’ve still to catch Kinky Boots, don’t miss our special offer prices.