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Review | Everybody's Talking About Jamie | The Lowry | 12/09/2023

Basing a musical on a BBC documentary doesn’t necessarily sound like a great idea, but ‘Everybody’s Talking About Jamie’ has been a runaway success since its debut in 2017. This coming-of-age musical is based on the real-life story of high school student Jamie, who has aspirations of becoming a drag queen. When he decides he wants to wear a dress to his high school prom he faces both ridicule and unwavering support from those around him.

Staging is simplistically done, with school desks initially littered across the stage. These are multipurposed and cleverly light up like something out of a Michael Jackson video! Projections and sets which fold out of the walls are used to great effect. The real pull for this show however is the music penned by Dan Gillespie Sells. The show starts with a monumental bang with ‘Don’t Even Know It’, introducing us to Jamie as his sings of his aspirations beyond the school walls.

For an LGBT+ coming of age story, the narrative takes a less conventional route. Rather than struggling with his sexuality, Jamie is sure of who he is. This can sometimes mean that the role is played with an immediate overpowering confidence. Ivano Turco however gets the balance right, building the character carefully throughout. To begin with we feel Jamie’s boyish charm through his demeanour and innocent hopeful smile. After the events at the end of act one, when we see Jamie with greater confidence and sass; developing the character in a way that historically is not often achieved quite as successfully. Turco is every bit the pro, continuing to dance up a storm despite losing a shoe; seamlessly making it part of the performance and using it as a microphone once reunited with it.

Though Jamie knows who he is, it doesn’t mean that certain family members and students are as accepting. This gives the character vulnerability which is played into beautifully. Perhaps the most touching parts of the show are when the unbreakable bond between mother and son is realised in “He’s My Boy” and “My Man, Your Boy.” Having played the role of Jamie’s mum Margret in the West End production, Rebecca McKinnis makes a triumphant return to the role. McKinnis’s vocals are beautiful, giving me goosebumps whilst bring many other audience members to tears.

Also returning to the show is Shobna Gulati as neighbour Ray. Gulati is truly the heart and humour of the show, with her witty one-liners and dating escapades having the audience in absolute stitches. It really is hard imagining anyone else playing the character quite this well. John Partridge gave a fun interpretation of Loco Chanelle, however his Hugo felt less convincing. It would have been great to have felt more warmth from him, to be able to view him as more of a father figure and role model to Jamie.

The energy at the curtain call had the entire audience on their feet dancing. I would have loved more of this energy throughout the show. However, this feel-good musical will have you leaving the theatre with a smile on your face, having had a great night out at the theatre! It is no mystery as to why Salford will be talking about Jamie!

Everybody's Talking About Jamie is on at The Lowry until 17 September 2023, before going on an extensive UK tour. Click below for booking info:

Please note the above trailer features a previous cast

Note: My ticket was gifted. Irrespective of whether a show is gifted or bought, I always ensure that my reviews are fair and based on my honest opinion alone.


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