Even after a year’s delay, Everybody’s (still) Talking About Jamie. Strutting onto the musical scene in 2017, and now the Wales Millennium Centre in Cardiff, the British stage show has become something of a phenomenon in just four years.
Based on a 2011 BBC Three documentary, Jamie: Drag Queen At 16 – the story of Jamie Campbell, his unconditionally loving and supportive mum and teenage drag dreams in Durham – and with music by The Feeling’s Dan Gillespie Sells, Everybody’s Talking About Jamie follows the titular teenager who dreams of becoming a drag queen and decides to attend school prom in a dress in front of a backdrop of teenage homophobia and unsupportive authority figures. A pretty fabulous and mostly true story.
The original documentary touched the hearts of viewers and caught the attention of choreographer and director Jonathan Butterell (Nine), who met with a pair of long-time friends Gillespie Sells – himself a gay man that grew up with same-sex parents – and TV writer Tom Macrea (Doctor Who, Threesome). From that BBC documentary, Jamie has not only become a West End musical but a feature film. Not bad for a boy whose careers class said he was supposed to have a future as a fork-lift truck driver!
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With one in five millennials identifying as LGBTQ+, and that number increasing for Generation Z, a show like Jamie has a huge audience already. While the drag stuff is fun to watch, the show is ultimately about acceptance and a coming-of-age story. The songs, meanwhile, are both fun and heartfelt – If I Met Myself Again and He’s My Boy being proof. Importantly, too, Jamie is played by a gay actor, Layton Williams (Bad Education, Rent). The cast also includes two soap legends: Shane Richie as Hugo/Loco and Shobna Gulati as Ray, Jamie’s mum’s best friend.
Considering the show, and the theatre industry in general, survived a pandemic and the West End going dark, the title of the final number Out Of The Darkness (A Place Where We Belong) couldn’t be more apt to welcome fans back to the theatre scene in Cardiff.
words CHRIS WILLIAMS
See Everybody’s Talking About Jamie Live
Wales Millenium Centre, Mon 15 – Sat 20 Nov