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Everyone's Talking About Jamie: as utterly joyful and triumphant as ever

Five years after premiering on the Sheffield stage, everybody is still talking about Jamie as the show returns to its spiritual home in the steel city.

Layton Williams (Jamie New) and Sharan Phull (Pritti) in the Everybodys Talking About Jamie Tour
Matt Crockett

Jamie New is 16 and is not like his friends at school. His best friend wants to be a doctor but he wants to be a drag queen. Raised by his mum on one of Sheffield’s tougher estates, Jamie finds himself - and his drag alter ego, Mimi Me - with the help of fading drag queen, Hugo, and with the support of his ever-doting mother and his best friend, Pritti. But as if Jamie’s difficult relationship with his dad wasn’t enough to contend with, the school aren’t particularly enthused about the big question on everyone’s lips – namely, who will turn up to the school prom? Jamie or Mimi Me?

The company of the Everybodys Talking About Jamie Tour
Matt Crockett

Reprising his West End role, Leyton Williams (Bad Education) proved an incredibly charismatic lead, and whilst his vocals were not the strongest at times, his portrayal of Jamie was deliciously delightful. Stealing the musical honours was Amy Ellen Richardson with her two show-stopping numbers as Margaret, Jamie’s mother; and Sharon Phull was utterly charming as Pritti, bringing a mixture of sensitivity and wide eyed wonder. But it was Shane Richie who proved to be the biggest surprise of the night, balancing a measured performance as Hugo with a flamboyant turn as Loco Chanelle, his drag alter ego.

Layton Williams (Jamie New) in the Everybody's Talking About Jamie Tour
Matt Crockett

The strength of the show lies not just in the performances, but in the excellent writing and the superb score. Musically, there is some tremendous pop bubble-gum fun to be had with many of the numbers and the choreography, characterisations and ensemble cast bring the characters, and the stage, to life. Blending comedy with emotion, the story is one that easily balances humour with genuine feeling. ‘He’s My Boy‘ is nothing short of a torch song, and the more tender moments between Jamie and his mother nestle beautifully in the feel-good warmth of the sharp script.

But what struck me the most about the show on this occasion was the audience, covering every age from young children to pensioners, and the inescapable feeling that this was a show that was bringing together the generations. From an LGBTQ+ perspective, there is real sense of empowerment in seeing such a joyous celebration of gay culture on stage and such strong reinforcement of the notion of chosen family. For that portrayal to be so lovingly embraced by such a receptive and diverse audience is a testament to the show.

The touring production for 2022 is fast paced and packed with a vivacious burst of energy. The show remains as utterly joyful and triumphant as ever; I laughed, I cried and I cheered on multiple occasions and the audience leapt to their feet in approval at the show’s finale.

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Everybody’s Talking About Jamie is at the Lyceum Theatre until the 16th April 2022.

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