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Everybody’s Talking About Jamie at Theatre Royal Brighton | Review

The current tour of Everybody’s Talking About Jamie, which started at Salford in September, has now taken up residence at Theatre Royal Brighton for four weeks. It is an impressive production, mainly because it is in every way the equal of the West End one. It has been strongly cast and directed (Matt Ryan and Cameron Johnson), the set (Anna Fleischle) looking as if it were designed especially for Brighton with a natural, not over-amplified, sound design by Paul Groothuis.

Layton Williams (Jamie) in Everybody's Talking About Jamie. Photo credit Johan Perrson.
Layton Williams (Jamie) in Everybody’s Talking About Jamie. Photo credit Johan Perrson.

For those who don’t know, Jamie is about a 16-year-old Year 11 school leaver in Sheffield who is passionate about becoming a drag queen. It is based on the true story of Jamie Campbell who appeared in a BBC documentary in 2011.

The story of the musical is fairly predictable with many stereotypical characters but is well written and structured by Tom Macrae and Jonathan Butterell so that as well as being totally involving, it also has that typical British musical “feel good” factor, and is none the worse for that!

This is an ensemble musical and this production is particularly strong in the casting of the supporting roles.

Amy Ellen Richardson as Margaret, Jamie’s mother, is particularly thrilling vocally, her two ballads, especially ‘He’s My Boy’ in Act Two, being very powerful. Shobna Gulati is witty and believable in the role of Ray, and Marlon G Day is suitably horrible as Jamie’s dad.

Sharan Phull demonstrates boundless energy in the role of Jamie’s friend and confidante Pritti and George Sampson is wonderfully restrained but evil in his role of Dean Paxton, the school bully, as well as demonstrating superb dance skills.

Bianca del Rio is glamorous as the drag queen Loco Chanelle who mentors Jamie and Lara Denning is Miss Hedge, the careers teacher. (Why is it that most of us remember how useless the careers advice at our secondary schools was?)

But it is of course for Jamie himself that most go to see this musical and Layton Williams does not disappoint. His smile captivates the audience straight away and he has the singing and dancing ability to steal the show whenever he is on stage. He also makes it look so easy, so we believe him, especially his tantrums.

Imaginative choreography (Kate Prince) and the excellent but subtle on-stage band (Benjamin Holder) are the icing on the cake. I had a superbly enjoyable evening as did those in the packed Theatre Royal. Highly recommended if you are able to get a seat! If Brighton is too far for you, the tour continues in 2022, reaching Wimbledon, its nearest central London venue, in April.

5 Star Rating

Review by John Groves

Out of the darkness… into the spotlight… back to the place where we belong.

Jamie New is sixteen and lives on a council estate in Sheffield. Jamie doesn’t quite fit in. Jamie is terrified about the future. Jamie is going to be a sensation.

Supported by his brilliant loving mum and surrounded by his friends, Jamie overcomes prejudice, beats the bullies and steps out of the darkness, into the spotlight.

Everybody’s Talking About Jamie, the award-winning feel-good musical sensation, is at Brighton this Christmas from Tue 7 Dec 2021 – Sun 2 Jan 2022. West End star Layton Williams reprises the role of Jamie New, Roy Haylock, also known as his drag alter ego Bianca Del Rio, winner of RuPaul’s Drag Race, will also return to play Hugo/Loco Chanelle and Shobna Gulati (Coronation Street, Dinnerladies) who has starred in the West End, UK Tour and movie adaptation of Everybody’s Talking About Jamie, re-joins the cast to play Ray.

This fun and fabulous show heads to Theatre Royal Brighton for a four-week run and is the perfect fit for Brighton during the festive period. It’s time to dust of your glad rags, put on your heels and enjoy a night out at the Theatre!

Music by Dan Gillespie Sells
Book and Lyrics by Tom MacRae
From an idea by Jonathan Butterell
Directed by Matt Ryan from original direction by Jonathan Butterell
Design by Anna Fleischle
Choreography by Kate Prince
Lighting design by Lucy Carter
Sound design by Paul Groothuis
Casting by Will Burton
Musical Supervisor Theo Jamieson
Musical Director Ben Holder
Video Design Luke Halls

Everybody’s Talking About Jamie is at Theatre Royal Brighton from Tuesday 7th December, 2021 to Sunday 2nd January, 2022.

Parental discretion advised. Contains some strong language and mild sexual references.

Interview with Layton Williams – Everybody’s Talking About Jamie

Buy Tickets

Theatre Royal Brighton
Tue 7 Dec 2021 – Sun 2 Jan 2022

New Victoria Theatre, Woking
Tue 15 Mar – Sat 19 Mar 2022

Theatre Royal Glasgow
Tue 26 Apr – Sat 30 Apr 2022

New Wimbledon Theatre
Tue 5 Apr – Sat 9 Apr 2022

Milton Keynes Theatre
Tue 19 Apr – Sat 23 Apr 2022


  • John Groves

    John Groves studied singing with Robert Easton and conducting with Clive Timms. He was lucky enough to act in the British premiere of a Strindberg play at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe more years ago than he cares to remember, as well as singing at the Royal Opera House - once! He taught drama and music at several schools, as well as examining the practical aspects of GCSE and A level drama for many years. For twenty five years he has conducted a brass band as well as living on one of the highest points of East Sussex surrounded by woodland, deer, foxes and badgers, with kites and buzzards flying overhead.

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