Everybody’s Talking About Jamie – Review – Leeds Grand Theatre
By Steve Crabtree, November 2021
The promfabulous Everybody’s Talking About Jamie comes to Leeds Grand – and if the reactions from people on opening night are anything to go by, it’s going to be a fabulous week.
Here is a show set in Sheffield, based on the true story of a 16-year-old lad who has ambitions to become a drag queen. Some of his peers support him, some don’t, and his teacher’s views on his desires leave a lot to be desired.
Jamie is bold, brilliant and flamboyant. And that’s the tone that Everybody’s Talking About Jamie brings to the stage. It’s an upbeat production that gave me, my partner and everyone around us the feel-good factor. And, in most parts, the giggles too.
“Concentrates on positives”
Layton Williams took the lead role of Jamie New, and he was fabulous. His timing of put-downs was genius, and he certainly knows how to wear the highest of heels! You easily warm to him and you enjoy how he makes the role work.
Jamie’s BFF Pritti Pasha was played with aplomb by Sharan Phull. Another one whose comedy timing was impeccable, none more so that towards the end where she bellows out a single word and completely silences the theatre, prior to us erupting in laughter.
And there’s a special mention for Amy Ellen Richardson who took the role of Jamie’s mum Margaret. A down to earth character who takes everything in her stride, Richardson’s portrayal of her was effortless, and she also claimed the best vocal of the night when she lifted the roof during ‘He’s My Boy’.
Everybody’s Talking About Jamie is a show that concentrates on positives, without dwelling on any negatives. But at times Jamie’s trials and tribulations cry out for more dramatic depth. His hardships, such as when he is beaten up, or when his dad rejects him, are hastily dealt with when they could easily have added shade to the overall stroyline.
But Jamie doesn’t really come with many doubts about himself anyway – and maybe that was the message. Although semi-hesitant about announcing he wanted to become a drag queen, he was quite comfortable in telling people about it, and was very confident in tackling the school bullies who tried to belittle him.
Scenery wise, Everybody’s Talking About Jamie has an impressive backdrop which functions between scenes really nicely. The show is based primarily in school or in Jamie’s house, but we go into a frock shop and the street seamlessly. The light-up school desks that activate as Jamie strides down them when they’re put together is clever.
But camp-comedy is what makes the show. It’s abundant, and hilarious in parts – covering up some potentially awkward moments in the story too. In contrast, we have some stark and shocking remarks from Jamie’s teacher, which drew gasps from the large Leeds crowd.
It’s a show full of dancy numbers, touching on disco. A truly funny show which makes you laugh at least every minute. To cover such a subject in such a way is quite an achievement, and you can truly see why everybody talks about Everybody’s Talking About Jamie after they’ve seen it.