One of my favourite things about musical theatre is that the genre continues to find new ways to excite even when most of the ideas are well-tread. Everybody’s Talking About Jamie is a story structure I’ve seen numerous times as an enthusiast. Our hero is an outcast for his sexual orientation and triumphs over the unaccepting parents and people he comes across. Yet, this story about a 16-year-old boy who wants to crossdress feels so fresh and engaging. I credit this to the performance of John McCrea, who plays Jamie. Although the lyrics are superb and you will be humming the songs for weeks, I personally go to see these shows for the live performance. It’s something I can’t get anywhere else.
And I would expect nothing less from a West End play (where Everybody’s Talking About Jamie transferred from Sheffield Crucible). Still, it’s impressive when it all comes together. I think something that made this performance so engaging and new is that Jamie never really seems to care about the criticisms. He is proud from the start. The musical is based on a 2011 BBC documentary, I wonder if the real-life Jamie has the same bravado attitude. Regardless, he demands respect. He shines in every scene. He knows what he wants and he goes after it. To me, he is an inspiring hero for people from all backgrounds.
The entire thing feels like a bit of a celebration. There have been more and more media opportunities for stories revolving racial and sexual minorities in the past 10 years (a trend I hope continues up up up), it’s fascinating to see how each one conveys its narrative. I don’t think Everybody’s Talking About Jamie would have worked if it was not done with such celebration and confidence. I just loved how fun it was. I had a good time start to finish. I think that is a good formula for a musical you’d like to have a long run. I’d go see it again, it’s a perfect place to spend an evening in my opinion.
This is not to say everything is happy dory. Some of the self-reflective songs are absolutely heart wrenching. The tone is pop but the content is not so light. It hits you in parts, but it is not heavy-handed. Josie Walker, who plays Jamie’s mum Margaret, does an unbelievable job balancing the heart of the musical. Her song “If I Met Myself Again” will give you goosebumps, and so will the song “He’s my boy”.
Everything is choreographed to perfection by Kate Prince, I will have to seek out her other work. The moves are as invigorating as the music. The set is well designed too. It’s not too detailed, but just enough to hold your suspension of disbelief. I had a feeling I knew where it was going, but the payoff was immensely satisfying nonetheless. If you’ve got any time at all, I highly recommend checking out Everybody’s Talking About Jamie. Check out the trailer below: