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Review | Everybody's Talking About Jamie at the Sheffield Lyceum

Updated: Apr 16

AD | tickets was gifted in exchange for an honest review

TW/CW - Everybody's Talking About Jamie includes - smoke, haze, flashing lights, loud music, smoking with also strong language and mild sexual themes

 

The hit Sheffield musical is BACK! And as a Sheffielder (yes I think I made that word up) here is why everybody should be talking about it…


Photo credit: Matt Crockett

Everybody Talking About Jamie returns home to Sheffield on its second UK tour, and with the response from the audience it's still loved by many. Like I said with being from Sheffield myself watching the show return is a great pleasure every time and hearing the great audience response is also lovely to hear. 


The show started back in 2017 in the Crucible and went on to create a successful-storm across the world with many productions including a majorly successful West-End run and in LA, with also various other productions of the show plus not forgetting a movie adaption. 


Inspired by the BBC 3 documentary ‘Jamie: Drag Queen at 16’ the show follows 16 year old Jamie New who is an aspiring drag queen, and wants to go to his year 11 school prom in a dress. With also facing unwanted bullying, with the help from drag queen veteran Hugo / Loco Chanelle, his mum Margaret,  Margaret’s Best Friend Ray and also Jamie’s Best Friend Pritti Pasha, all who help Jamie beat the bullying and achieve the hopes of becoming a drag queen. 


Everybody’s Talking About Jamie has book and lyrics by Tom Macrae, music by Dan Gillespie Sells, along with direction by Jonathan Butterell and Choreography by Kate Prince. 


Everybody’s Talking About Jamie runs for 2 hours and 40 minutes including an interval. Like always, my reviews are 100% honest and I will always justify my ratings, thoughts and feelings, always giving constructive feedback and my opinions are my own. 


 

Photo credit: Matt Crockett

Director Jonathan Butterell directs carefully and considerably, having touching moments full of emotion between Jamie and Margaret (played by Ivano Turco and Rebecca McKinnis) which are special to watch, and in which shows a true love connection between mum and son which is beautiful to see. Butterell also juxtaposes with a sort of tense direction between Jamie, Dean and his Dad, (played by Akshay St Clair and Jordan Ricketts) which gets audiences feeling nervous on what's going to happen next. Both sides of Butterell’s juxtaposed direction is natural and shows heartbreak in two different ways and the theme of acceptance and also love in various forms, which will result and most definitely be able to be empathized and also sympathized by many and it's something that helps cement the message of the piece. I think what was also good and what I like about Butterell’s direction is that it feels coherent to the script.  Butterell directs the majority of the show in a realistic way, as well as adding direction which is somewhat slightly exaggerated and dreamy which fits greatly and supports the understandability of the character backstories and thoughts which isn’t too much. Butterell’s direction is heart-warming and has strong emotion behind it, simply effective. On the UK Tour Matt Ryan is working alongside Jonathan Butterell to direct the show.


Everybody’s Talking About Jamie has book and lyrics by Tom Macrae and music by Dan Gillespie Sells. Macrae takes the inspiration of the documentary and develops and adapts it really well, with a layered book that is balanced with comedy and emotion, that is very responsive from the audience with tense moments receiving gasps and shocked responses and then huge amount of laughter, especially when something is mentioned about Sheffield like the ‘supertram’. Although the references are something that I wouldn’t have thought would have been as universally understood as they have done. Macrae is honest in the writing and it feels very genuine. The book felt slightly tweaked from the last time I saw it, but may just be my opinion. Macrae’s lyrics are profound and are nicely suited to the framework of Sells’ fun upbeat pop score. The lyrics are catchy and memorable and at times uplifting and moving, from the likes of one of the show's outstanding numbers, in act two, ‘He’s my Boy’, which for many could bring a tear to their eye. Along with the show's opening number ‘You Don’t Even Know it’, Macrae and Sells do a great job moving the plot along with the lyrics and score, both go skillfully hand in hand. Both the book and lyrics are utterly pleasing. 


 

Photo credit: Matt Crockett


The popularity of the show comes at no surprise, in its direction, script and score and with it having a 4 year residency in London’s West-End and previously mentioned other productions of the show. The show stars a few returning cast members, but this time Ivano Turco steps into the red heels as the title role of Jamie New. Turco takes Jamie in a slightly different direction, what we get from Turco’s take of Jamie is slightly less exaggerated in some parts, but does still keep some of that exaggeration which is actually nice to see. Vocally Turco adds in new impressive riffs to numbers which are nothing but brilliant and to me gives the songs a new feel which I liked. Turco’s vocal ability is very clear and gives new characterization to the role of Jamie New, plus having some great energy during choreography, Ivano Turco’s performance is splendid. 


Playing Jamie’s mum Margaret, is returning cast member Rebecca McKinnis, McKinnis gives an outstanding performance as Margaret. McKinnis feels natural and at ease in the role and creates some beautiful mother and son moments with Turco. The delivery on, what I thought can only be described as an unbelievably-emotional performance, of ‘He’s my Boy’, is a performance of pure clarity from McKinnis, from the characterization, expression to line delivery, Rebecca McKinnis is a delightly-compelling to watch.  


Stepping into the role of Jamie’s best friend Pritti Pasha was Rhiannon Bacchus who is actually an understudy for the role. Bacchus is a tremendous performer, who shows what understudies can do. Bacchus creates a pleasing performance with great line delivery and brilliant vocals. Bacchus is very likeable and is funny and shows the friendship between Pritti and Jamie really well. With Bacchus’ vocals being elegant and lovely to hear, Rhiannon Bacchus' performance is strong and genuine. 


Photo Credit: Matt Crockett


Kate Prince's excellent choreography is energetic and fabulous to watch. The choreography during ‘If I met myself again’ vividly creates the memories for Margaret and Jamie's dad when they were younger which is appealingly and effective to the character and their story in which is gracefully performed. 


The creative elements of this show are very good with Anna Fleischle’s clever set design structure  moves to create various locations, with also Fleischle’s glamorous and wow costumes. 


Ultimately, the whole cast come together to create a piece of theatre that audiences seem to love and can really connect with in different ways. The cast put on their best Sheffield accent and perform what some could say is maybe one of Sheffield's best works. With so many local references which audiences seem to love, it does seem that Everybody’s Talking About Jamie is still loved by many after its stage debut in the Crucible 6 years ago, and shows why it’s still a loveable show. It’s great to see it in Sheffield ‘the place where it belongs!’


★★★★

 

Everybody's Talking About Jamie plays at the Sheffield Lyceum until Saturday 20th of April!





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