Everybody's Talking About Jamie, Wolverhampton Grand Theatre - review

The modern-day fairy tale hit musical Everybody’s Talking About Jamie is a triumph.

Everybody's Talking About Jamie
Everybody's Talking About Jamie

It runs this week at the Wolverhampton Grand Theatre, starring musical theatre legend Layton Williams in the title role.

The stage production of 'Jamie' has received rave reviews over the last few years and tells the tale of a 16-year-old from County Durham who dreams of becoming a drag queen and wants to go to his school prom in a dress, despite the possible consequences.

A storyline of this nature could only originate from truth and the inspiration behind the musical is 25-year-old Jamie Campbell, the real-life Cinderella who simply wanted to go to the ball as the person he had hidden inside.

TV and theatre star Layton Williams always offers outstandingly strong performances whatever the role, but Jamie New must surely be his best yet. He is every inch “A Superstar in a Wonder Bra” with charisma in bucket loads and stage presence which reaches well beyond the fourth wall.

Everybody's Talking About Jamie

Known for his anti-bullying and LGBTQ beliefs, which presumably come as a result of his own experiences, Williams’ characterisation leaves you with the feeling that he has lived through certain scenes in the show in his own life.

Of course, his dancing is spectacular – you would expect nothing less from a child star of Billy Elliott – but he brings so much more to the role, with exceptional vocals, comedic timing, and the ability to have the audience laughing out loud one minute and weeping the next.

In fact, comedy is the backbone of this show and who better to take on the role of drag queen Loco Chanelle than Eastenders’ star and all- round talent Shane Ritchie. Although a relatively small role, Shane certainly makes an impact with outstanding comedy timing, is in fine voice and wow, what a transformation!

It was wonderful to see Dinnerladies’ darling Shobna Gulati in the role of family friend Ray, a character which she also plays in the recent movie release.

Hitting the mark with every line, this is an inspired piece of casting, and her entrances are highlights of the show.

Everybody's Talking About Jamie

Sharan Phull is endearing as Pritti, Jamie’s best friend and almost steals the vocal performance of the evening with her exceptional, haunting rendition of Beautiful, but not quite. That accolade goes to Amy Ellen Richardson as Jamie’s Mum, Margaret whose emotional, heart-wrenching version of He’s My Boy brought the house down.

I can only imagine what the real Margaret must have felt on hearing that song for the first time.

Drag queens Gary Lee, JP McCue and Rhys Taylor are three of the funniest performers you will ever see on stage, complete with hilarious costumes, wigs and make up, courtesy of Katie Ross who has done an incredible job.

Together Dan Gillespie Sells, Jonathan Butterell and Tom Macrae have created a score is catchy, humorous, and emotional, a script which is laugh-out-loud hysterical, and characters who are representative of life today resulting in a piece of pure entertainment.

Matt Ryan’s direction is clean and inspiring, Zoonation’s Kate Prince’s choreography is edgy, fresh and pacy and gives the whole show an energy of its very own, and the outstanding band under the supervision of Musical Director Sam Cotes drives the show along.

Jamie, both on stage and in real life, had a hard journey and even if it is a musical very much of its era, the end result is a wonderfully witty, uplifting, feel-good show which certainly makes you think about the world today and the need to accept people for who they are.

It’s simple; we are all the same deep down.

“Everybody’s talking About Jamie” has limited availability, so it seems they really are, but grab a ticket if you can because it really is “a little bit of glitter in the grey".

The show runs until Saturday.

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