Everybody’s Talking About Jamie has now been running in the West End for over two years and, as there have just been substantial cast changes, it seemed the right time to see the show again. 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, but 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.
Mountview student Noah Thomas has just taken over the role of Jamie. He is superb, having that rare indefinable quality of charisma, besides being totally charming and unpretentious. He inhabits the role totally: when he sings one can hear every word and he uses those words, as in the dialogue, with intelligence and wit. His stylish dancing is one of the many pleasures of the whole show. He is a generous actor, allowing others to shine when he could be taking the limelight, especially in scenes with his mother who continues to be played by Melissa Jacques: again wholly convincing and believable. She is lucky to have been given the best songs (composer/orchestrator Dan Gillespie Sells) in the show, He’s My Boy and If I Met Myself Again, which she sings with intense feeling so that her rapport with the audience is total.
Other ‘new’ members of the cast include Hiba Elchikhe, another Mountview student, who is very believable in the role of Jamie’s friend Pritti, and Jordan Ricketts who excels as the class bully, Dean Paxton, even if the role he has been given is rather stereotyped. Sejal Keshwala provides a very warm characterisation of the role of ‘auntie’ Ray and Roy Haylock is stunning in his role of drag queen Loco Chanelle, as well as making the most of his one song in Act One. In fact there is not a weak link in the energetic cast, with the possible exception of Marlon G Day as Jamie’s Dad, who is able to do very little with the role.
The very precise, imaginative, choreography, well executed by the entire company, is by Kate Prince.
Overall, this is a highly slick, very impressive production of one of the all-round best British musicals of the first twenty years of this century. You may not leave the theatre humming the tunes, but you will certainly ‘come out’ (as Jamie does) with a smile on your face.
Very highly recommended: Jamie is at least as good as everyone says it is, and the new cast really do it justice.
Review by John Groves
Noah Thomas becomes the third Jamie as he leaps from Mountview student straight into a leading West End role. Debuting alongside him are Hiba Elchikhe in the role of Pritti Pasha and Jordan Ricketts playing Dean.
David O’Reilly as Laika Virgin and Leon Craig as Sandra Bollock are the two new drag queens and Zion Battles (Levi), Keenan Knight (Sayid), Ebony Clarke (Swing/Dance Captain), Joe Wolstenholme (Swing) and Brian James Leys (Understudy) complete the rest of the new cast.
Continuing with the show are current cast members: Melissa Jacques (Margaret New), Preeya Kalidas (Miss Hedge), Sejal Keshwala (Ray), Roy Haylock/Bianca Del Rio (Hugo/Loco Chanelle), James Gillan (Tray Sophisticay), Marlon G. Day (Dad), Alexander Archer (Mickey), Zahra Jones (Becca), Emily Kenwright (Vicki), Jordan Laviniere (Cy), Harriet Payne (Bex), Tilly La Belle Yengo (Fatimah), Marvyn Charles (Swing), Rachel Seirian (Swing) and Gillian Ford (Understudy).
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. With catchy songs by lead singer-songwriter of The Feeling, Dan Gillespie Sells, and book and lyrics by writer Tom MacRae, this funny, fabulous, feel-good, musical sensation has been wowing audiences and critics alike. Sixteen: the edge of possibility. Time to make your dreams come true.
Everybody’s Talking About Jamie is produced in the West End by Nica Burns, Ian Osborne, Paula Marie Black, Teresa and Craig Beech.
Everybody’s Talking About Jamie
Apollo Theatre, London