MUSICAL REVIEW: Everybody's Talking About Jamie ★★★★★
Everybody's Talking About Jamie
Apollo Theatre, London
Wednesday 18th April 2018
There's something really special on right now in the West End, and that's Everybody's Talking about Jamie, a musical based on the real life Jamie New, who at sixteen wrote to the BBC about having a documentary about his aspiring dream of becoming a drag queen, and soon after, ‘Jamie: Drag Queen at 16’, was broadcasted on BBC Three, to which is where director Jonathan Butterell stumbled upon the programme and had a vision to put Jamie's life in the spotlight. The original production of 'Jamie ran in Sheffield with only 19 performances, but due to the sheer word of mouth from its most loyal fans, 'Jamie opened at The Apollo Theatre in London, November 2017, and no wonder why the fans backed the production so much, but right now I truly believe this original British musical is exactly what the UK needs right now!
Straight from the start, the production opens big with 'Don't even know it’, and right at the heart of this production is Luke Bayer, who portrays Jamie. Bayer is the understudy for the title role, who regularly is played by John McCrea, but what Bayer completely shines through with is the vulnerability behind his portrayal, especially in moments such as when he tries on his brand new red heels gifted as a birthday present, or his more fiery approach towards schoolboy Dean (Luke Baker). Bayer completely steals the stage with his energy and really relishes on the audience's reactions and appreciation, as we root behind Bayer taking on such a fantastically layered character!
It would be a scandal though to not mention the sheer talent with everyone involved in this production; it's a huge shame in this country we don't have a 'Best Ensemble Cast’, as the commitment and energy, especially with the school kids, will never be erased from my mind in years to come when I'm asked who has the best supporting ensemble. The tight chemotherapy from Kate Prince makes you want to jump from your seat and become a part of the magic on stage, with Dan Gillespie Sells music mixed with Tom Macrae Book and Lyrics becoming a recipe for success!
The most incredible thing about this production, on top of the incredible cast and creative team, is just how honest and real the whole story feels; we watch as Jamie tackles family heartbreak in the form of his father, who is played so well by Ken Christiansen that you feel like voicing your opinion on his horrid stance right from your seat, so much that I could genuinely hear mutterings of vulgar language whenever he spoke down to his son. It just goes to show how well written the script is that we as an audience truly have feelings towards the characters presented on stage and that we will always root for Jamie, as he continues to push people's opinions aside in order to shoot for his dreams!
Overall, Everybody’s talking about Jamie is probably one the most groundbreaking new musicals from the UK in recent years as it continues to reach out and support those in the LGBTQ+ community, and helps give them a voice. Finally if Jamie New has left us leaving the theatre having been taught one thing, it's that we're all equal and unique in our own special way!