Everybody’s talking about Jamie – A modern, exuberant musical

London Event Reviews by May B

The story is simple. 16 year old Sheffield school boy Jamie dreams of being a drag queen and is supported by his mum and diverse friends while being the target of ridicule and bullying. It’s a sort of Billy Elliott mashed up with Fame and Priscilla Queen of the Desert.

There are lots of laughs. Lots. The humour is decidedly British – but the nearby Canadians seemed to find it funny. The script is crisp.

Just about every song was original, catchy and memorable. Some were bouncy and some were poignant. There was plenty of teenage angst. The perfectly-timed and energetic choreography spanned street dancing, strutting and voguing.

The staging was smart – moving from class room, to kitchen, to teen bedroom, to drag shop and finally to night club – smoothly. Video clips played over the screen across the live band situated at the top of the stage.

All of the lead characters played their parts enthusiastically – and were excellent singers to boot. Surprisingly, there were several stars. John McCrea (Jamie) has a huge natural talent and it shone really bright. Josie Walker as his mum Margaret New conveyed the joys, sacrifices and heat ache of motherhood without schmaltz.

Best friend Pritta Patel (played by Luci Shorthouse) was another star in the making – quietly supportive one moment and larger than life the next. Older drag queens – Alex Anstey, James Gillan and Daniel Jacob were suitably camp. It was a real joy to see a diverse cast that doesn’t take the easy route with Muslim stereotypes.

My only grumble was that the preview show I saw was probably a little bit long – but I’d find it hard to know where it could be cut.

It’s fun. It’s camp. It’s tender. It’s light. It’s surprising. It’s uplifting. It has a sweet innocence about it. It’s likely to have a wide appeal to a variety of audiences – young and old. And I suspect it will enjoy a long run.

Apollo Theatre, London

Posted Date
Nov 23, 2017 in London Event Reviews by May B by May B