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  • Writer's pictureBecky Wallis

Everybody's Talking About Jamie UK Tour - Theatre Royal Plymouth - Review

In a world where acceptance, understanding and kindness seems to be dwindling, a musical that tells the story of a young man trying to be their truest self, set against a backdrop of inner-city Sheffield, where inclusivity is in short supply, is as important as ever.


Based on the BBC3 documentary Jamie: Drag Queen at 16, ‘Everybody’s Talking About Jamie’ tells the story of Jamie New, ‘the boy so nice he came out twice’. Unlike his Year 11 classmates who dream of popstar super stardom or strive to marry a billionaire, Jamie (played here by Ivano Turco) has a different dream. He wants to be a drag queen. But with his teacher Miss Hedge (Sam Bailey) telling him to keep it real, the school bully Dean (Jordan Ricketts) delighting in picking at his every move, and the words of his unaccepting father (Akshay St Clair) haunting him, there is a lot stood between Jamie and that dream, with his decision to attend his school prom in a dress only making things harder for him. But, on the other hand, he is lucky, for he has the strong support system of mum Margaret (Rebecca McKinnis), her best friend Ray (Sejal Keshwala) and his best friend Pritti (played at this performance by Rhiannon Bacchus) along with former drag queen Hugo (Kevin Clifton). They’ve got his back, and they want to see his dreams come true.


Ivano Turco steps into the high heels of Jamie New, oozing sass, energy, and a fighting determination throughout. His Jamie looks at the world with a sense of wide-eyed innocence, a deep-rooted belief that he can and he will, no matter what others are saying about it. From the start, you root for him to succeed, you root for him to put the bullies in their place and for him to find the acceptance he so obviously craves, even though he sometimes puts himself before others on his way to the top. It is Turco’s relationship with McKinnis’ Margaret New that truly provides the production’s emotional heart and narrative drive. A single mother and her child who doesn’t necessarily fit into the world around him. She would go above and beyond for Jamie, whether he knows it or not. McKinnis delivers one of the most emotional and vocally impressive moments of the show with her heart wrenching solo ‘He’s my Boy’, receiving one of the biggest applauds of the night.


Keshwala’s Ray, alongside Clifton’s Hugo earn some of the biggest laughs with their quick one liners and ‘this is how it’s happening, sod everyone else’ attitude. They become pivotal in Jamie’s life, and show great determination and heart in everything that they do to help Jamie achieve his dreams. Clifton, best known perhaps for his time spent as a pro dancer on ‘Strictly Come Dancing’, is a delight as Hugo/Loco Chanelle, suiting the character perfectly as he is able to balance the larger than life overly confident drag queen Loco with the very real honest Hugo who is able to guide Jamie with both encouragement and much needed reality checks. He also gets to showcase his great vocals throughout.


At this performance, the role of Pritti was played with heart and charm by Rhiannon Bucchus. Pritti has her feet well and truly in reality, providing Jamie with a grounding force and the kind of advice that he could only get from an open and honest best friend.


The songs (music by Dan Gillespie Sells and lyrics by Tom Macrae) is a fun and well-balanced mixture of upbeat high energy dance numbers, performed effortlessly by the ensemble who play Jamie’s class mates, and powerful ballads that pack a punch. Repeating tunes and small reprises litter the narrative, cleverly throwing back to previous scenes and perhaps illustrating how those previous moments influence future ones.


With its story that has its heart and soul in the importance of acceptance and inclusivity, this is a production that is needed now. We are constantly reminded to ‘be kind’, but such reminders can fall on deaf ears, and stories such as Jamie’s illustrate how being kind and being accepting is as vital as ever, if not more so.






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