REVIEW: Everybody's Talking About Jamie lights up the stage in Northampton - but could be even better

Layton Williams as JamieLayton Williams as Jamie
Layton Williams as Jamie | other
Steve Mills reviews Everybody's Talking About Jamie at the Royal & Derngate, Northampton

The hit musical which has taken theatres up and down the land by storm so much is that it is becoming a major feature film is out on its first UK tour.

And it was a special night for writer Tom MacRae, bought up in Weedon Bec, attendee of Campion School, who was able to fulfil a lifelong dream of bringing a show to the first ever venue he watched a show at. As he told the audience post-show.

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Jamie New is sixteen and lives on a council estate in Sheffield. Jamie doesn’t quite fit in. Jamie is terrified about the future. But Jamie is going to be a sensation. 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.

Layton Williams as Jamie with other cast membersLayton Williams as Jamie with other cast members
Layton Williams as Jamie with other cast members | other

Layton Williams is a real star as the titular Jamie giving plenty of attitude as both the surly teenager and the wannabe drag queen while special mentions must go to both Amy Ellen Richardson and Shobna Gulati as Margaret and Ray respectively. The song He’s My Boy is one that so many mothers would identify with about their children as they grow up.

But beyond the sequins, high heels and the glitter, it deals with the subject of masculinity and how it can be both powerful and terrifying. How men quickly change in a small town from how Jamie’s dad reacts to his news and how the cycle can be seen repeating in the difficulties Jamie has with bully Dean.

It was a well told story, and a really well produced show so you can see why there has been so much hype about it. However, for me, while it doesn’t drag much despite a running time of nearly three hours in total, you feel like much of the story could have been told in a slightly quicker form.

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Given the nature of how drag queens have been portrayed on television as fierce warriors armed with a dazzling array of frocks and put downs, it does seem a shame that for the climax, the show feels a little understated. As Jamie himself, he’s just come as a boy in a dress, which was his original ambition. It’s just a shame we never saw the full on drag explosion. But that’s just a personal point of view.

It’s easy to see why this show has become popular and is always enjoyable. It’s fun, packed with plenty of heart and charm, plus is a true inspiration. And if a show inspires someone to become their real self then maybe it has made a big difference to the world.

* Everybody's Talking About Jamie runs until Saturday March 14. Visit royalandderngate.co.uk or call 01604 624811 to book.

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