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Everybody’s Talking About Jamie at Theatre Royal Brighton

The current tour of Everybody’s Talking About Jamie, has now taken up residence at Theatre Royal Brighton for two weeks. It is an impressive production, mainly because it is in almost every way the equal of the West End one. It has been strongly cast and directed (Matt Ryan and Georgina Hagen), the set (Anna Fleischle) looking as if it were designed especially for Brighton with a natural, occasionally over-amplified, sound design by Paul Groothuis.

Ivano Turco as Jamie. Photo Credit Matt Crockett.
Ivano Turco as Jamie. Photo Credit Matt Crockett.

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 plot of the musical is fairly predictable with many stereotypical characters but is well written and structured by Tom Macrae and Dan Gillespie Sells 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.

Rebecca McKinnis 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 Akshay St Clair is suitably horrible as Jamie’s dad.

Talia Palamathanan demonstrates boundless energy in the role of Jamie’s friend and confidante Pritti, being particularly involving in her second act song “It Means Beautiful” and Jordan Ricketts is wonderfully restrained but evil in his role of Dean Paxton, the school bully, as well as demonstrating superb dance skills. In fact one of the most impressive and enjoyable things about this current production is the slick dancing (choreography Kate Prince) of the whole cast, not forgetting the Drag Queens!

John Partridge is glamorous as the drag queen Loco Chanelle who mentors Jamie and Hayley Tamaddon is Miss Hedge, the careers teacher, totally lacking in humanity! (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 Ivano Turco rarely disappoints. 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 that we believe him, especially his tantrums. At times in his musical numbers, the band (Musical Director Danny Belton – onstage at the rear) is allowed to be too powerful, and one wishes that his enunciation was clearer, but this is a very believable portrayal, by no means a stereotype.

I had a most enjoyable evening as did those in the packed Theatre Royal if the reaction at the end was anything to go by – even though I found it difficult to find anyone who had NOT seen the show before! But if you haven’t, or even if you have, this is one of those shows that you leave feeling uplifted! As I keep reminding readers, Brighton is only one hour by train from London, and ATG offer good seats from £13! Recommended!!

4 stars

Review by John Groves

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. This ‘Funny, outrageous, touching’ (Daily Telegraph), musical sensation is to be experienced by all the family and not to be missed!

Everybody’s Talking About Jamie is at Theatre Royal Brighton from Tuesday 31st October, 2023 to Saturday 11th November, 2023.

View all shows booking now at Theatre Royal Brighton.

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  • 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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